Ocean Resort Casino Shows Off Its New Digs For Media Ahead Of June 28 Opening

Just a couple weeks away from opening day, Ocean Resort Casino gives the media a sneak peek into the newest Atlantic City casino.

The local and national press got a preview of the Atlantic City Boardwalk’s new Ocean Resort Casino this week.

With the former Revel’s grand opening a little over two weeks away, staff gave the media a look around the 6.4 million-square-foot property.

According to NJ.com, resort adviser Seth Schorr said what makes the property so special is the Atlantic Ocean.

“The days of old dark casinos are a thing of the past,” Schorr said.

The Ocean Resort Casino press preview

Media got a look around the 1,399-room, 48-floor hotel. The sneak-peek included a taste of the 138,000-square-foot casino that will feature 2,200 slot machines and 100 table games.

In the center of it all stood the new sportsbook, run by British bookmaker William Hill.

Schorr told NJ.com the sportsbook will be the heart of the casino. It will create “amazing energy” with lively groups cheering on their favorite teams in the middle of the casino floor.

One reporter from the Associated Press marveled at all the activity going on during the preview.

He noted someone using a drill or a saw almost everywhere he looked.

Plus he said he saw cocktail servers and bartenders practicing their technique, housekeeping staff working on rooms, new workers walking the halls with valuable information in hand, and others in orientation classes.

In other words, Ocean Resort Casino was in full prep mode, busily ironing out the details ahead of its June 28 opening.

A customer service focus? You better believe it

Considering Bruce Deifik, CEO of Ocean Resort Atlantic City, has said customer service issues were a part of why Revel failed, it’s no surprise the staff is focused on fixing that.

Schorr said management is well aware of the property’s previous customer service issues and is addressing them:

“We are putting ourselves in the minds of the guests that are here for the first time. It truly will be changes and improvements to the guest experience.”

Deifik has also been focused on making it easier to get around the property. The casino floor has been reconfigured with straighter sight lines and walkways.

Plus, Schorr said employees called ambassadors are going to be positioned all over the property, not only to tell guests how to get places but to walk them there personally.

Other points of interest at Ocean Resort

Among the additional amenities noted by reporters was a giant fish tank across from the still-under-construction main check-in desk.

On the second floor is a lounge called The Den. The Den will feature billiards, shuffleboard, arcade games, and eSports. In fact, it will host an eSports tournament in October.

Further amenities that drew the attention of NJ.com included a 32,000-square-foot spa, six pools, and a TopGolf virtual driving range.

Both the NJ.com and AP staff writers noted new carpeting at the hotel. Additionally, they made mention of the 16 restaurants that will open on the property June 28. Plus, four more will open their doors when the renovations are finally complete.

One thing that had not changed is the 5,500-seat concert arena, Ovation Hall. It remains as it did back before Revel officially closed its doors in 2014.

Competing with Hard Rock Atlantic City?

Ocean Resort Casino appears happy to let Hard Rock Atlantic City take the lead when it comes to live music and entertainment.

Instead, Ocean Resort’s two-story nightclub HQ2 and the return of Revel’s Royal Jelly burlesque club will comprise the top entertainment offerings. HQ Squared, as it is referred to, plans to feature a lineup of well-known DJs on opening weekend.

Despite sharing the June 28 opening date, the idea of not directly competing with Hard Rock Atlantic City seems to be a part of the new Ocean Resort Casino philosophy.

In fact, Schorr told NJ.com the shared date truly was a coincidence, one that actually works out well for Atlantic City. He said nothing says Atlantic City is growing more than two casinos opening on the same day, just weeks after NJ sports betting got the all-clear.

The first guests will be able to walk into Ocean Resort Casino at 3 p.m. ET on June 28. Looks like they’re in for quite a treat.

Hard Rock Atlantic City Plans To Dish Up Some Tasty Cuisine When It Opens

Just weeks before its June 28 opening, Hard Rock Atlantic City revealed details about the more than 20 food and beverage offerings opening up on the property.

Just weeks before its June 28 opening, Hard Rock Atlantic City is releasing details about the more than 20 food and beverage locations opening on the property.

Matt Harkness, president of Hard Rock Atlantic City, said the property will feature a new outlet of Hard Rock’s own icon cafe brand, plus restaurants with innovative menus and world-class cuisine.

“We’re excited to bring a diverse range of culinary experiences to our guests and to the Atlantic City Boardwalk – a place that’s been home to our Hard Rock Cafe for more than 20 years. We’re also thrilled to debut the new 400-seat Hard Rock Cafe, which features indoor and outdoor live music stages and panoramic views of the Atlantic Ocean.”

The new Hard Rock Cafe will feature an elevated menu and state-of-the-art stage. Plus, it will house a Hard Rock Beach Bar.

Hard Rock Florida favorite Council Oak

An iteration of the popular Council Oak restaurants from Florida’s Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino properties will also open.

The restaurant will celebrate the Northeast’s freshest catch. It will feature a local raw bar, wood-fired kitchen, shellfish pots, and dry-aged prime cuts.

The interior is said to be reminiscent of a classic Northeast seafood restaurant. It will include a live music lounge, wine tasting room, views of the beach throughout, and an open kitchen.

Council Oak Fish will accept reservations. Private dining rooms will be available for groups of any size.

Ethnic foods abound

Kuro is the hotel and casino’s new Japanese restaurant. It will feature contemporary artisan dishes using locally sourced ingredients and others imported directly from Japan.

The restaurant’s beverage menu includes hand-crafted cocktails using fresh ingredients, blending modern recipes with classic flavors. Plus, Kuro will serve a variety of Japanese imported and local craft beers, Japanese whiskeys, and shochu. Kuro will also boast 30 brands of sake and 110 wine labels available.

Then, Il Mulino will serve up traditional and rustic Italian flavors. The restaurant will feature a variety of quality fish, lamb, and cured meats with fresh homemade cheeses and pastas.

Plus, Song is set to offer a modern twist on dishes from all over China, and YOUYU Noodle Bar will focus on fresh noodles and broths inspired by Asian street food.

Finally, the Fresh Harvest Buffet will be offering a culinary tour of the world. The buffet will feature live cooking and carving stations, brick oven pizzas, dim sum, and desserts.

Coffee and a little something sweet

For something sweet, Sugar Factory, dubbed the most heavily Instagram-ed restaurant in the US in 2016, will be making its Hard Rock debut in Atlantic City.

The sweet eatery will feature a floor-to-ceiling candy wall, specialty beverages, and homemade doughnuts and pastries. Signature items such as its savory crepes, salads, monster burgers, and specialty pizzas will also be on offer.

Plus, Sugar Factory’s legendary desserts, including the famous 24-scoop King Kong Sundae for 12, and the 64-oz. alcohol-infused, smoking candy goblets will be on the menu.

Freshly brewed coffee, home-baked goods, and New Jersey’s favorite sandwiches will live at Constant Grind. Plus, cold-pressed juice, acai bowls, and smoothies will all be available at The J Bar.

Hard Rock Atlantic City has big plans for June 28

Hard Rock Atlantic City will open up June 28 on 17 acres fronted by The Boardwalk.

There will be several other food and beverage options not described above. As for some other important factoids, Hard Rock will include a 2,000-room hotel and a casino with 2,100 slots and 120 table games.

The property has its sights set on becoming Atlantic City’s premier entertainment destination. To that end, it will feature world-class entertainment inside the 7,000-person Hard Rock Live at Etess Arena.

More entertainment will also be on offer at the beachside Sound Waves and the Howie Mandel Comedy Club.

Ocean Resort Casino, a re-imagination of the failed $2.4 billion Revel hotel and casino, will also open on The Boardwalk on June 28.

Trump Plaza’s Ending Is On Hold As Atlantic City Gears Up For A Busy Summer

The 34-year-old Trump Plaza was scheduled for demolition this spring. However, owners have yet to file for a demolition permit and will now have to wait for tourism season to come and go first.

Trump Plaza isn’t going anywhere just yet.

Once the biggest casino in Atlantic City, the 34-year-old Trump Plaza had been scheduled for demolition this spring.

However, Dale Finch, AC’s director of licensing and inspection, told the Press of Atlantic City newspaper this week that no demolition permit had been filed by the owner of the building, Icahn Enterprises, or subsidiary Trump Entertainment Resorts.

As such, the planned demolition of the building is on hold.

Tourism season kicks into gear in AC

Former Mayor Don Guardian said demolition would go ahead this spring. However, with tourism season in play, Finch said it’s too late for that now.

Finch said parts of the Boardwalk would need to close for demolition to go ahead. Therefore, it will not happen during the busy summer tourist season. He said its more likely to happen in late fall.

Finch added that crews have been actively removing asbestos from the shuttered casino. Plus, the ownership group has been seeking quotes on the cost of demolition.

But the city has received no demolition permit applications at this time.

The Press of Atlantic City estimates it will cost somewhere around $13.5 million to demolish the property.

It all started in 1984

Originally called Harrah’s at Trump Plaza when it opened in May 1984, the property was the biggest casino in Atlantic City history. It was a joint partnership between President Donald Trump and Harrah’s, which was Holiday Inn’s gaming division at the time.

The Boardwalk property launched with 614 rooms and a 60,000-square-foot casino.

Trump opened the competing Trump Castle a year later. A property that was first renamed Trump Marina and has now become Golden Nugget. Harrah’s called it a conflict of interest, and Trump ultimately bought out Harrah’s. It’s been just Trump Plaza ever since.

Trump Plaza went through a bankruptcy in 1992 and Trump’s publicly traded company Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts came away with ownership.

Trump Plaza closes

In 2011, the renamed Trump Entertainment Resorts said it was actively seeking a buyer for the property or a financing partner to help with a renovation.

However, Trump Plaza shut down in September 2014 after no buyers or financing partners emerged. One of many casinos to close in New Jersey that year, Trump Plaza never opened its doors again.

A costly endeavor to tear down Trump Plaza

Owners have asked the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority (CRDA) for $5.6 million in Investment Alternative Tax contributions it plans to put toward the cost of tearing down Trump Plaza.

However, Senate President Steve Sweeney is against the idea. He told the CRDA Chairman Robert E. Mulcahy in a letter that the billionaire chairman of Icahn Enterprises, Carl Icahn, should foot the bill himself.

City officials say the property’s demolition is key to future development. Because of its Boardwalk location at the base of the Atlantic City Expressway, any new property has the potential to draw in huge crowds.

Holiday Inn, parking garage to remain

However, representatives from Icahn Enterprises told the Press of Atlantic City last year that even when demolition goes ahead, the former Holiday Inn tower and a 2,658-space parking garage on the property will remain standing.

Another currently closed Atlantic City casino formerly owned by President Trump, Trump Taj Mahal, is scheduled to reopen as Hard Rock Atlantic City on June 28 after a $500 million renovation and re-branding.

NJ Sports Betting May Not Bring The Treasure Trove Of Revenue Lawmakers Were Anticipating

In a meeting with New Jersey lawmakers this week, the state treasurer estimated that legal NJ sports betting would only bring $13m in tax revenue to the state, far less than what had been expected.

State Treasurer Elizabeth Maher Muoio told lawmakers this week that legal sports betting may not bring New Jersey the kind of tax revenue most had initially hoped for.

Muoio gave testimony at an Assembly Budget Committee meeting Monday, telling those in attendance the state is projecting sports betting will create just $13 million in tax revenue in the fiscal year beginning July 1.

That’s well below the $50 to $100 million some members of the New Jersey legislature were expecting.

Plus, it is even lower than more conservative figures found in a 2017 American Gaming Association report that predicted New Jersey sports betting could generate as much as $200 million in revenue annually, with $21 million of that going to the state.

Conservative estimates

NJ Senate President Stephen Sweeney told NJ Advance Media that Muoio’s figures sounded low.

But, since sports betting is new, nobody really knows what to expect. Sweeney also said the state is better off following more conservative estimates rather than being overly optimistic.

State Assemblyman Ralph Caputo told NJ.com he expects the numbers will ultimately be much bigger than Muoio’s predictions.

However, Sweeney and an anonymous source within Gov. Phil Murphy‘s administration said no one ever thought sports betting would be a real game-changer. Nor would it produce the kind of tax revenues needed to have a major impact on the state’s estimated $37.4 billion budget.

Last week, the US Supreme Court voted 6-3 in favor of lifting a federal ban on sports gambling. This gave all 50 states the right to legalize sports betting inside their borders.

New Jersey lawmakers are now in the process of putting together regulations to govern sports wagering in the state. They are hoping to be the first of many states to open up local sports betting markets.

The Legislature is looking at June 7 as the date legislation with clearly defined regulations will be passed.

NJ sports betting and the budget

However, most aren’t looking at sports betting as a magic pill that will cure any budget woes ailing the state.

During Monday’s budget hearing, Muoio said market observers and the state’s own tax analysts estimate sports betting will bring in $124 million in total revenue. She said $13 million of that will go to the state in tax revenue.

Muoio said the figures are based on sports betting tax rates of between 8 and 15 percent.

The legislation (A3911) currently being considered by lawmakers would see sports betting operations at casinos and racetracks charged an 8 percent tax. Online sports betting operations would pay 12.5 percent.

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A competitive market

One of the reasons for the disparity between original projections and the figures Muoio quoted Monday may be the competition.

Neighboring states such as Pennsylvania have been given the green light to move forward with sports betting as well. Such a move will likely cut a lot of out-of-state business out of the local market.

However, some of the original projections were likely always too high.

Nevada, the only state with legal, full-scale, single-game wagering prior to the Supreme Court decision, generated a record $249 million in sports betting revenue last year. A total of $17 million of that money went to the state in tax revenue.

Last week, Fitch Ratings said sports betting will not contribute substantially to New Jersey’s tax revenue haul.

However, state officials remain hopeful sports gambling will be a boon to the casino, racetrack, and tourism industries. Plus, any additional tax revenue it creates will still be beneficial to the state in some way.

Monmouth Park Says It’s Ready To Take State’s First Legal Sports Bet By Memorial Day

Monmouth Park CEO Dennis Drazin has targeted May 28 as the day the NJ racetrack’s William Hill Sports Bar can take the state’s first legal sports bet, but that might be wishful thinking.

Editor’s note: This article was updated from its original version.

Could legal sports betting launch in New Jersey by Memorial Day?

Monmouth Park CEO Dennis Drazin certainly hopes so and has targeted May 28 as the day the Oceanport track’s William Hill Sports Bar can be converted back into a sportsbook and take the state’s first legal sports bet.

On Monday, the US Supreme Court released its heavily anticipated decision in the state’s sports betting case. In a 6-3 vote, the court deemed the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) unconstitutional and upheld a 2014 New Jersey law allowing sports betting in Atlantic City casinos and racetracks across the state.

PASPA is the law that prohibited sports gambling everywhere except Nevada, and limited sports betting in Delaware, Montana, and Oregon.

The decision opens the door to legal sports gambling across the country. A handful of states have already passed sports betting legislation anticipating a decision in New Jersey’s favor. Of course, New Jersey is expected to get there first, but just how fast it can is still a question.

The William Hill Sports Bar at Monmouth Park

Back in 2014, Monmouth Park built a sportsbook-style lounge on the property.

The $3 million partnership between the track and British bookmaker William Hill was supposed to be the first place in New Jersey to take legal sports bets.

However, major sports leagues across the country took the state to court to have the NJ sports betting law struck down. The state appealed, but until now, could not find a court to rule in its favor.

The sportsbook was converted into a sports bar and has been running as such ever since.

Drazin held a press conference following the Supreme Court decision to say Monmouth Park is ready to convert the space back into a sportsbook and start taking bets almost immediately:

“It’s my intention, unless somebody stops us, to be up and running in two weeks. If the Legislature or the governor says ‘slow down,’ I’m gonna listen to them. We’re trying.”

Let’s not forget NJ sports betting regulations

Gov. Phil Murphy and other state lawmakers may want Monmouth Park to hold off until they can set up sports betting regulations in the Garden State.

At least one bill containing sports betting regulations is currently before the NJ Senate, having been introduced Monday.

It would ensure:

  • Only casinos, racetracks, and former racetracks would be able to open sportsbooks.
  • Gamblers must be 21 or older.
  • No bets are placed on college sports played in the state or on college teams based in the state.

On Wednesday, however, NJ.com reported that the bill from state Senate President Stephen Sweeney also comes with a warning to Atlantic City casinos and racetracks in the state: “Anyone who opens a sports betting operation before the state puts regulations in place will be barred from accepting future bets on games.”

This puts a damper on Monmouth Park’s eagerness to get ahead of the pack.

Another bill with slightly different regulations stands before the Assembly. A more realistic date for getting a bill with the same regulations passed by both the Assembly and Senate and signed by Gov. Murphy would be the end of June.

“We’re moving quickly with legislation,” Sweeney told NJ.com. “I’m hopeful we should be ready by early June. Everyone should respect the legislative process rather than jumping out.”

Drazin said in an interview that he had not heard of such a provision in the bill but he wouldn’t challenge it either.

“I have not spoken to the Senate president yet,” Drazin said. “But I have said all along and I have said to the Senate president that I would go along with the legislative process. So I would comply.”

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Weeks, not months

For its part, William Hill US Operations CEO Joe Asher told NJ.com Memorial Day is likely pushing it:

“I won’t give a date to anybody right now. I’m comfortable saying as soon as responsibly possible. But clearly we’re thinking in the realm of weeks. We’ll see how many that turns out to be.”

Going forward, another $2 million is expected to be spent expanding the William Hill Sports Bar at Monmouth Park into a full-fledged Las Vegas-style sportsbook.

And while Drazin has every reason to want to give Monmouth Park a financial boost from legal sports betting, Sweeney and NJ legislators are just asking for patience:

“We fought for this for seven years. I’m anxious to get started just like everyone else.”

Confirming Rumors, Ocean Resort Casino Plans To Open Its Doors On June 28

A head-to-head matchup is in the works for Atlantic City this summer as Ocean Resort Casino’s opening date will be the same day as another highly anticipated casino, Hard Rock Atlantic City.

The rumors are true. Ocean Resort Casino will officially open its doors on Thursday, June 28, alongside Hard Rock Atlantic City.

Developers AC Ocean Walk, who bought the failed $2.4 billion Revel Hotel and Casino at the north end of the Atlantic City Boardwalk for $200 million in January 2018, brought the team hired to run the re-branded casino resort together Monday to announce the grand opening date.

AC Ocean Walk Chairman Bruce Deifik thanked them all:

“We are thrilled to share this exciting news with you and would like to thank each and every one of you for being a part of the Ocean Resort Casino extended family and our debut in Atlantic City. It was important for us to share this news with you directly, as the team here at Ocean, both as part of our family and as a part of the wonderful community that is Atlantic City that will continue to play an integral role in our future success. For that, we are extremely grateful to each of you.”

Two casinos, one grand opening day

June 28, of course, is the same day the former Trump Taj Mahal will officially reopen as Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City.

In March 2017, Hard Rock International partnered with some local developers to buy the closed $1.2 billion Trump Taj Mahal for just $50 million. They pledged to spend $375 million renovating and re-branding before opening it as Hard Rock Atlantic City on Memorial Day weekend 2018.

Renovation costs quickly jumped to $500 million, and Hard Rock AC pushed the opening date to summer 2018. In April, the organization announced the casino resort would officially open June 28.

Now, Atlantic City’s two newest casinos, having risen from the ashes of two closed casinos in NJ, will go head to head from the day they open the doors.

A property refresh at Ocean Resort Casino

Since January, the 6.4-million-square-foot Ocean Resort Casino has been in the middle of what developers are calling “a property refresh.”

The project includes enough work in renovations and improvements that Ocean Resort Casino is now being referred to as a $3 billion property.

Additionally, Ocean Resort is distancing itself from the former Revel by instituting a number of new policies, procedures, and ease of access features aimed at improving the guest experience.

According to AC Ocean Walk, many of these new policies and procedures were born out of complaints made by former Revel clientele.

Ocean Resort Casino CEO Frank Leone says the grand reopening will be a special day for Atlantic City. Plus, it’s the beginning of a new chapter in the property’s revitalization:

“We look forward to June 28 as the culmination of all of our planning and know that this will be a special day for Atlantic City as it turns the page on a new chapter of revitalization. Everyone has been so incredibly positive and supportive of the changes that have been discussed relative to the property and our team is committed to providing a tremendous customer experience for all of our guests. We cannot wait to reveal what we have been working on for them.”

From Revel to Ocean Resort Casino

Revel’s construction was slowed down substantially by financial issues and labor disputes. The luxury casino resort opened its doors on April 2, 2012. However, it went bankrupt and closed them a little over two years later in September 2014.

In April 2015, a Florida developer named Glenn Straub bought the property out of bankruptcy for just $82 million. He said he wanted to re-brand the property as TEN and reopen. However, he missed a number of reopening dates over the next two years, all while battling with state regulators over casino licensing issues.

Finally, Straub sold Revel to AC Ocean Walk in January 2018 for $200 million. AC Ocean Walk said it was re-branding the property as Ocean Resort Casino. Plus, it too hoped to reopen in the summer of 2018.

When it finally does open on June 28, it will do so with a 1,399-room hotel run by Hyatt’s Unbound Collection. The revitalized property will also include a 138,000-square-foot casino plus 160,000 square feet of indoor meeting and convention space. There will also be an additional 90,000 square feet of flexible outdoor special event space.

Ocean Resort Casino will feature six swimming pools, including a salt-water pool and an ocean-facing sun deck with luxury cabanas.

The property will open with no less than 16 different dining options. This includes everything from fine dining to casual eateries, from the Ocean Buffet to well-known brands such as Walhburgers.

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A focus on the customer experience

Ocean Resort Casino says it will continue to focus on the customer experience. That means featuring a wide variety of entertainment options. This includes the largest-ever Topgolf Swing Suite with 11 golfing bays and the renovated 5,500 seat Ovation Hall.

Ocean Resort Casino also plans to open up a best-in-class sportsbook, but only after legal sports betting gets the go-ahead in New Jersey.

Additionally, the property will feature 70,000 square feet of retail space and a 32,000-square-foot Hyatt exhale fitness and spa location.

Deifik believes the public is going to love the changes they’ve made:

“Our team has been working diligently since we acquired the property in January and have put a great deal of time and effort into creating a truly unique and memorable destination guest experience. We think people will love what we have created through our partnerships with well-known brands such as Hyatt, Topgolf, Walhburgers and others that offer the best in quality dining, entertainment and hospitality.”