[toc]Atlantic City was no doubt pleased to hear last week that Hard Rock International purchased the Trump Taj Mahal.
That news left many rejoicing. But there were some who wondered if this acquisition also meant that the iconic international hotel chain would scrap its plans to open a property in North Jersey.
Hard Rock still has sights set on North Jersey
The casino-resort giant had, according to earlier stories, come to an agreement with Meadowlands Racetrack owner Jeff Gural to open a Hard Rock. That agreement, of course, was conditional upon the state’s November referendum passing. However, voters rejected the plan to put casinos in North Jersey.
“Hard Rock International CEO Jim Allen told the Associated Press on Thursday that the company is still committed to a proposal to build a $1 billion casino at the Meadowlands Racetrack — a plan that would require voters to change the state constitution first,” wrote NJ.com‘s Brent Johnson.
Prospects of North Jersey Hard Rock are slim
Will Hard Rock ever get into North Jersey? There’s the pesky referendum problem, after all.
It’s still a dubious proposition that new casinos have a chance outside Atlantic City. Voters crushed last November’s referendum with a decisive 80-20 margin. The result was not surprising. Experts believed it would fail.
Hard Rock owns a stake in Meadowlands, so its commitment to opening a property there is more than talk. Allen likely believes a North Jersey casino would do what Gural has always envisioned: Keep the region’s gamblers inside the state. Many of them have the choice to head to New York, Maryland or Pennsylvania to gamble.
Gural hopes to cash in on Hard Rock’s savior role
Ever the wheeler and dealer, Gural told the Washington Post he hopes local leaders and politicians are “appreciative” of Hard Rock’s willingness to step in and buy the Taj.
Gural’s motives are pretty clear. He’s hoping Atlantic City and other state politicians and leaders will soften to the idea of opening a casino at the Meadowlands because it will be a Hard Rock, the same company that swooped into rebuild the Taj Mahal.
Hard Rock’s decision to buy what many consider the flagship casino of AC’s golden era has, at least for the time being, preserved the city’s sense of legacy. Will it help the city sustain momentum? We’ll find out in 2018 when the Hard Rock AC opens.
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