With A Busy Summer And A Few Unknowns Ahead, Atlantic City Stays In High Spirits

Atlantic City looks forward, not backward, as the summer openings of Hard Rock AC and Ocean Resort Casino near and NJ online gambling revenue continues to make waves.

It has been some time since optimism swirled around Atlantic City. For several years, there has only been despondency.

Since 13 casinos were operating along the New Jersey shoreline in 2013, five have since closed. New properties like the former TEN AC shut its doors even before opening. Tourism dropped.

And in February, Atlantic City’s gaming revenue dropped by 6.5 percent month-over-month, largely due to bad weather.

Despite a dark and dreary road, however, there is light at the end of the tunnel. And it begins this summer.

Boon for the Boardwalk

Highly publicized and anticipated, Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City and Ocean Resort Casino are the big names being talked about in AC. Both plan to open this summer, and a third — Showboat Atlantic City— is reportedly interested in joining the party.

Hard Rock AC and Ocean Resort have already begun the process of hiring staff, and their applications for casino operating licenses are reportedly being fast-tracked by the state. The two casinos sit on two of the largest properties along the Boardwalk, flanking the Showboat on either side.

Currently, the Showboat is a non-gaming hotel. Its casino floor, measured at more than 125,000 square feet, has been roped off since 2014, though owner Bart Blatstein has begun his own process to reopen.

The tandem of Hard Rock AC and Ocean Resort are already expected to spark a spike in tourism along the New Jersey shoreline. Hard Rock, for example, will boast a 7,000-seat entertainment arena with a beach bar near Steel Pier.

Together, and grouped with Showboat as well as a steadily increasing market in online gambling, Hard Rock and Ocean Resort could “break the chain of poverty,” as AC mayor Frank Gilliam put it.

Fear of oversaturation in Atlantic City? Maybe, maybe not

Future revenues could increase with the opening of at least two popular casinos. But there is concern that individual earnings could decrease as the pie is sliced into more pieces.

Then again, some argue that with some innovative and headlining attractions along the Boardwalk, tourism would also increase. As a result, there would be few  – if any – losses to claim.

Dr. David G. Schwartz, director of the Center for Gaming Research at UNLV, said one of two things could happen in Atlantic City with these casino openings.

“The total gaming revenue for Atlantic City is smaller now than it was when the town supported more casinos,” he said. “More competition could be a case of dividing the same pizza among more people, in which case, someone might not get enough to eat.”

Schwartz noted, however, that more attractions — especially innovative and novel casinos — could draw more gamblers to Atlantic City. As a result, those pieces would be sliced from an extra-large rather than a large pizza.

Try Golden Nugget NJ Online Casino And Get A Bonus

Nevertheless, optimism abounds in AC

January and February were not the best months for Atlantic City revenue. A blizzard blasted the shore in January, a leading factor in $184.3 million in gross gaming revenue for the month — a 10 percent decrease from the previous year.

This, coupled with February’s further revenue decline for land-based casinos, might lead some to think the worst is yet to come. AC casinos clocked in at $170.1 million for a 9 percent drop from 2017.

That said, gambling sites in New Jersey enjoyed a record $21.96 million in January revenue. It was the 11th straight month that number eclipsed $20 million. And last month, the record was set again: just shy of $22 million in just 28 days.

Online traffic continues to increase. There is a chance New Jersey would be able to offer sports betting by the summer if the US Supreme Court case goes in NJ’s favor. Two new casinos are scheduled to open around the same time (perhaps three with Showboat).

So yes, the recent track record of AC casinos is littered with potholes. But growing online revenues and innovative casinos lead many to believe history will not repeat itself.

Just How Pot-Friendly Will Atlantic City (And The Casinos) Be If NJ Legalizes Marijuana?

If NJ legalizes marijuana, Atlantic City casinos won’t be setting up pot shops anytime soon, but Mayor Frank Gilliam considers a pot-friendly city better for the economy and tourism.

“Going green” could be taking on a new meaning in two casino towns, both of which are of great interest for Frank Gilliam: Atlantic City and Las Vegas.

Gilliam, Atlantic City’s mayor, has been one of the strongest proponents of legalizing marijuana in New Jersey. He has said doing so would boost local economies and increase tourism, especially along the Boardwalk.

Last week, the New Jersey Assembly held its first hearing to determine if marijuana should be legalized in the state, according to WHYY.

Just do not expect to be hitting your vape while hitting blackjack in casinos anytime soon.

Atlantic City studies Sin City

On a trip organized by the New Jersey Cannabis Association, Gilliam recently visited Las Vegas to gather intel on how the city has integrated legalized marijuana with its casinos and nightlife.

While the drug has been legal in Nevada since last summer, recreationists are restricted to consuming the product within their own homes. Gilliam wondered how New Jersey could expand on the idea of legalized marijuana.

In December, before Gilliam visited, Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval requested the Gaming Policy Committee figure out how casinos can host pot-based conventions and trade shows. Since legalizing marijuana, the state has not allowed the drug to be affiliated with casinos and resorts.

Las Vegas casinos vs legal marijuana

In fact, gaming regulators warned license holders that they could be found unsuitable if they damage the reputation of Nevada’s gaming industry by breaking a federal law. They noted specifically that marijuana use is a violation of the federal Controlled Substances Act.

To boot, some argue that casinos hosting marijuana businesses could be considered racketeering or money laundering under federal regulations. Also, Vegas resorts are not allowed to house marijuana smoking lounges, and there can be no financial deals benefiting a gaming company or a marijuana provider.

Before the New Jersey Assembly began its hearing, Nevada’s Gaming Policy Committee voted to not allow direct relationships between the gaming industry and marijuana distributors. However, casino resorts in the state can hold conventions and conferences to bring pot people together to talk shop, though companies will be prohibited from bringing products to those exhibitions. 

Try Golden Nugget NJ Online Casino And Get A Bonus

What is in store for Atlantic City?

New Jersey already allows medicinal marijuana. This new bill would not only legalize the drug but also decriminalize possession, meaning a fine rather than criminal charges for a person holding more than an ounce of pot.

Gilliam reasons that legalizing the drug would allow for cannabis shops to open in the area, particularly in Atlantic City. Those would add to tourists’ experiences and jump-start the local economy.

The mayor has also said that the state could expand on what has happened in Nevada. There could be what Gilliam dubbed as “adult entertainment districts” that would allow visitors to use marijuana while enjoying local restaurants, bars, and spas. 

Gilliam envisions a city that would attract businesses that relate to a younger crowd and continue to boost visitation. In turn, the Atlantic City economy, which has taken a huge hit in recent years with five closed casinos, would see some growth. Coupled with the expected opening of two new casinos — Hard Rock AC and Ocean Resort Casino — the city would have a lot to look forward to.

Will legalizing marijuana affect the AC casino experience?

In Las Vegas, casinos don’t associate with cannabis commerce for fear of losing gaming licenses. Atlantic City would likely do the same for its resorts.

Yet Gilliam is an advocate for creating pot-friendly areas along the Boardwalk. After all, consider Nevada, where consumers can only enjoy the product within their homes.

“That could be good for Atlantic City,” Gilliam said. “If we can roll it out correctly and create a destination facility or area, that would be ideal.”

NJ Sen. Nicholas Scutari, another supporter of legalizing marijuana, said he would be open to the idea of designated smoking zones at clubs or in restricted areas. In Nevada, there are plans — though they are months away — to develop marijuana lounges.

If marijuana is legalized in New Jersey, there could be a downside for the NJ gambling industry. With the opening of pot shops around the area, visitors might be drawn away from the casinos entirely. Or AC may attract a cannabis crowd, which would make a purchase and leave right away.

Gilliam, though, is not a believer in such thinking.

“I don’t have the appetite to just be a pusher of the product,” Gilliam said. “I don’t want people to think that they should just come here, buy it and leave. I want it to be … a destination, where folks can come here and enjoy it in a controlled area.”

888 Casino NJ Builds Onto Its Game Selection With 43 New Online Casino Games

A month after adding 50 new games to its collection, 888 Casino partners with NetEnt to offer 43 new online casino games at its NJ gambling site.

If you thought 888 Casino NJ was done with its expansion, think again.

888 Casino NJ partners with NetEnt

Just a few weeks after opting to offer games from NYX, SGI, and proprietary games, 888 Casino announced a new partnership recently. The online casino will be offering 43 new games, for PC and mobile, from NetEnt.

Access to the newest games is available via the 888casino mobile app for Android and iOS as well as at us.888casino.com.

This partnership is the latest step by the company toward becoming a lasting power in the online casino industry. In February, 888 Casino struck a deal with NYX to expand its game collection by 50 titles. The company also introduced a talking parrot — promoting ways to get “lucky, lucky, lucky” while having “fun, fun, fun” — as part of a popular advertising campaign.

Now, 888 Casino has only thickened its portfolio with this newest partnership.

Boosting its game selection by leaps and bounds

The selection of slot games at 888 Casino has already become popular.

With its new partnership with NetEnt, 888 Casino hope to be ranked among the best NJ gambling sites in the state. It will offer such games as Planet of the Apes, which features two sets of reels, doubling players’ chances of winning with each spin; Steam Tower, a slot game allowing players to make their way to the top of the tower with increasing multipliers; and Guns n Roses, a game celebrating the 30th anniversary of the famed rock band that features solo multipliers, legend spins and a bonus wheel.

Other popular games for PC and mobile include:

  • American Roulette
  • Blackjack Classic
  • Bloodsuckers
  • Bloodsuckers 2
  • Butterfly StaxxDazzle Me
  • Dead or Alive
  • Emoji Planet
  • Fairytale Legends Red Riding Hood
  • Fantasini
  • Flowers
  • Fruit Shop
  • Gonzo’s Quest
  • Hansel and Gretal
  • Hook’s Heroes
  • Jack Hammer
  • Jimi Hendrix
  • Joker Pro
  • Jungle Spirit
  • King of Slots
  • Lights
  • Lucky Angler
  • Magic Portals
  • Motorhead
  • Mythic Maiden
  • Neon Staxx
  • Piggy Riches
  • Pyramid
  • Scruffy Ducks
  • Secret of the Stones
  • Secrets of Atlantis
  • Spinata Grande
  • Starburst
  • Theme Park
  • Tornado
  • Victorious
  • Warlords
  • Wild Water
  • Wild Wild West
  • Wolf Cub

Future bright for 888 Casino and NJ gambling sites

With the recent partnerships with NYX and NetEnt, 888 Casino has continued to establish itself as the go-to for the online casino experience. The company releases new games each month, and its variety and distribution has only widened.

To boot, NYX will now be supplying a large selection of online, mobile, and third-party games to boost the brand of 888 Casino.

The announcement is also a boon for online casinos as a whole.

State revenue in New Jersey for January 2018 reached nearly $30 million in online gambling, growing by 16.7 percent over a year’s time. For comparison, casinos in Atlantic City saw a nearly 10 percent drop in revenue between January 2017 and January 2018. (Granted, the area was hit by a blizzard that dumped more than a foot of snow, certainly contributing to the dropoff.)

According to New Jersey state gambling figures released in mid-February, online gambling is on a hot streak. The headliner was Golden Nugget NJ, which accounted for $7.3 million of the state’s $21.9 million in online casino revenue. But now 888 Casino hopes to boost its piece of the pie, too.

Will Ocean Resort Casino Defy Recent History And Open Its Doors As Planned?

It’s the big question on everyone’s minds, but Ocean Resort Casino NJ has had few hiccups or crises compared to its predecessors, Revel and TEN AC.

Perhaps the property was cursed. Maybe it was simply a result of poor management or closing casinos in Atlantic City.

Two previous companies, both with lofty aspirations of revitalizing the area with dazzling casinos, struggled to get off the ground. But that has not dampened the expectations of Ocean Resort Casino. It plans to open this summer on the same New Jersey property as the former Revel and TEN AC.

And it is determined to fulfill the game-changing goals of its would-be predecessors.

A curse upon the NJ casino property? Maybe…

The roots of a curse date back to 2006, when Morgan Stanley bought an Atlantic City property for $70 million. He charged Kevin DeSanctis, who had run Trump National, to head up development of a new casino: the Revel.

Four years later, after investing $1.2 billion in the project, Morgan Stanley severed ties with the property.

Then-New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie approved $261 million in state tax dollars to help the half-constructed project move forward. In 2011, a number of accidents plagued development. More than a dozen contractors sued the company over unpaid work. Rumors of a curse began.

From Revel to TEN to Ocean Resort Casino

Despite the drama, Revel opened to the public in 2012 — and began losing money almost immediately. By the end of the first quarter, it was reported that Revel lost $37 million while other nearby casinos were enjoying increased profits.

The casino filed for bankruptcy — twice — over the next two years. In 2014, Revel, site of the infamous domestic assault by former NFL running back Ray Rice that same year, closed its doors.

The property was then sold for $82 million to Glenn Straub, who rebranded it TEN. The new casino had planned to open by February 2017. But that never came to fruition. (TEN did launch a social online casino the following month.) Straub envisioned a June 2017 opening, which never came to be either.

Two months ago, after months of rumors, Straub sold the property to AC Ocean Walk. The new ownership group, which renamed the property Ocean Resort Casino, announced plans to spend $175 million in remodeling and repairs with a target to open by this summer.

Another headlining new casino, Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City, is expected to do the same.

Try Golden Nugget NJ Online Casino And Get A Bonus

Will Ocean Resort Casino open as planned?

This summer will mark four years since a casino has been open on this property. Yet AC Ocean Walk is determined to end that drought.

If it does, Ocean Resort Casino will feature 138,000 square feet of gaming space. There will be a sportsbook, pending the US Supreme Court decision in the New Jersey sports betting case, and potentially a real-money online casino.

Ocean Resort still has a variety of hurdles to clear in order to open. As of late-February, it had yet to secure a casino operator license (though state regulators have said they are trying to help expedite the process).

Furthermore, Ocean Resort needs to hire thousands of new employees who are properly licensed by the state. The casino has posted a number of management positions online, and it will be part of an April job fair that aims to hire veterans.

A sign of the times

Recent history is not a promising predictor for Ocean Resort’s near future. On top of the black-eyed property’s track record of failed casinos, Atlantic City is still bouncing back from a wave of casino closures that left the area’s economy in shambles.

Yet Ocean Resort is poised to be different than its predecessors. Management has been strong. There seemingly hasn’t been any diverging from the timeline and few hiccups. In fact, Ocean Resort, along with Hard Rock AC, has been deemed by many to be at the forefront of an Atlantic City renaissance.

Last week, Ocean Resort unveiled its logo on the side of the casino. Around the property are signs that read “something beautiful is coming spring/summer of 2018.”

After 12 years, the property’s curse could potentially — finally — be lifted.

With Summer On The Horizon, Hard Rock AC Executives Stay Positive On Future In Atlantic City

Hard Rock Atlantic City execs met with community members to show their commitment to Atlantic City and the NJ casino market before its summer 2018 opening.

Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City continues its attempt to establish itself as a viable, sustainable and all-out success — even if it has yet to open along the New Jersey coast.

According to the Press of Atlantic City, company executives met with more than 100 community members last week. They stressed that Hard Rock International, which in April 2017 purchased the closed Trump Taj Mahal, is committed to the region. They also emphasized that assistance from the community will return the once-booming resort to its glory.

Meeting the Atlantic City community

Hard Rock International chairman Jim Allen addressed the more-than 100 Atlantic City residents at New Shiloh Baptist Church last week, saying that the casino “will not get to the next level unless we bring together the community and the casino to get to the next level.”

Last spring, Hard Rock partnered with New Jersey property developers The Morris Family and construction and energy developers The Jingoli Family to purchase the Taj for $50 million. The Taj opened in 1990 and closed just two years ago.

Soon after acquiring the property, Hard Rock announced a $375 million renovation and rebranding. Since then, the estimated cost swelled to more than $500 million. The renovations are an effort to open an extravagant gambling and entertainment complex by this summer.

Of course, this information could easily have been circulated through myriad press releases. But last week’s meeting showed the community that Hard Rock Atlantic City would be unique to the area, particularly in creating a community boon.

For example, Allen said, the plan would be for Hard Rock not to steal customers from other casinos but rather draw more customers to the area.

Try Golden Nugget NJ Online Casino And Get A Bonus

Hard Rock Atlantic City has a strong foundation

Hard Rock is seemingly a well-oiled machine with 227 branded rock venues, a presence in 75 countries, and $5 billion generated in revenues. Its brand name alone is strong, and that, Allen said, is what will make Hard Rock Atlantic City a mainstay at the shore.

That’s yet another reason the company is convinced it can increase visitation to the area.

“The brand can drive people back to Atlantic City,” Allen said. “We have a diverse, eclective list of assets to drive business back to Atlantic City. … We are not in the mindset to save our way out of a problem.”

Past problems in NJ casino history still an issue

Heading into 2014, Atlantic City featured 13 operating casinos. However, that total dwindled to nine by the end of the year. Eventually, a total of five NJ casinos closed, stripping the area of its strength and workforce, as it was reported that an estimated 10,000 workers left the city.

While Hard Rock, as well as Ocean Resort Casino (formerly Revel), are set to open in 2018, the fear of another bubble bursting lingers.

Adding to the skepticism, some fear there will be not enough people to adequately fill the new casino jobs. While the opening of the two New Jersey casinos could create more than 6,500 jobs, an issue could be a “mismatch” between the positions offered. The availability and expertise of those looking for work may cause problems.

Hard Rock AC outlook still positive

Hard Rock AC still plans to open its doors this summer, possibly by June. The redesigned hotel will feature the company’s renowned music memorabilia as well as 2,400 slot machines and 130 table games. To boot, the resort would boast two arenas, each with more than 7,000 seats, to host live music, sporting events, and shows.

“We are more excited about this opportunity today than we were a year ago,” Allen said at last week’s meeting in Atlantic City. “We are going to spend our money. We are going to change perceptions.”

NJ Sports Betting Case Closing In On Final Weeks Before Supreme Court Decides Its Fate

The US Supreme Court could decide the New Jersey sports betting case as early as March or April, but like the final verdict, the actual date is unknown.

The long-awaited decision from the US Supreme Court on the New Jersey sports betting case — and possibly the direction for wagering around the US — is on the way.

After several years of hearings, litigation, and deliberation regarding the legality of the federal sports wagering ban, we could be just weeks or months away from a verdict that allows single-game betting beyond Nevada. The Supreme Court issued some decisions on Wednesday, but the NJ sports betting case — Christie vs. NCAA — was not among them.

The ruling on New Jersey’s case to legalize sports betting could be the weathervane that indicates the future of the activity in this country. And that ruling could come down as early as next month, or perhaps even sooner.

When will a ruling be made in NJ sports betting case?

Oral arguments in New Jersey’s case to legalize sports betting were held in December of last year, and the Supreme Court is still mulling over the case. Yet several pundits told ESPN in early February that a decision on New Jersey’s case could be made by March.

It could come even sooner, potentially:

No matter what, a decision is definitely expected before the Supreme Court’s summer recess in July. Pinpointing an exact date is difficult as the court does not provide advance notice for the release of case rulings.

The likely timeframe for a ruling is within the first few weeks of March or early or late April. It is possible, though, that a decision is not announced until May or June.

Try Golden Nugget NJ Online Casino And Get A Bonus

What does the ruling mean for the future of sports betting?

One way or another, five of the nine Supreme Court justices must agree on the core decision of the case.

The case pits the state of New Jersey vs. the NCAA, NFL, and other professional leagues. It’s focused on the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), which is the federal ban on state-sponsored sports betting outside of Nevada. The act prohibits legal sports betting in most states.

If the Supreme Court rules in New Jersey’s favor, the state’s racetracks and casinos (and the NJ online gambling sites) would be able to begin offering sports betting while potentially setting the standard for the future of sports wagering in other states.

When oral arguments were heard in December, 20 states signed on in support of New Jersey. Four states — Connecticut, New York, Pennsylvania, and Mississippi — had already passed legislation paving the way for legalized sports betting if the federal ban is lifted.

There is the potential for New Jersey to win its case, though it would be a slim victory. A ruling could allow for the state to offer sports betting, but that PASPA is still a good federal law. In this instance, the state’s government would not be able to regulate, tax, or license sports wagering. And other states would have to follow NJ’s lead in simply decriminalizing sports wagering if they want to offer it.

The worst-case scenario for New Jersey — heck, for sports betting — is that PASPA is ruled constitutional. Under these circumstances, New Jersey would not be allowed to offer legal sports betting anytime soon — nor would any other state in the country.