Glebocki Resigns As CEO Of Atlantic City’s Ocean Casino Hotel

Terry Glebocki, who led Ocean Casino’s turnaround from a flailing operation to one of AC’s top performers, has unexpectedly stepped down.

Terry Glebocki is resigning her role as CEO of Ocean Casino Resort, according to the Atlantic City casino.

Glebocki led Ocean’s turnaround from a flailing operation to one of the city’s top performers. The longtime financial executive had been the casino’s CEO since 2019.

Glebocki’s resignation unexpected

No reason was given for her departure.

“Glebocki has three decades of financial management experience, which navigated Ocean’s course to financial stability,” the casino said in a statement Monday. “Terry joined Ocean on the brink of bankruptcy and is leaving the property as a leading casino resort in Atlantic City.

Glebocki also resigned as president of the Casino Association of New Jersey, the industry’s lobbying and relations group.

Ocean did not indicate who would be taking over the CEO’s duties.

“We are working through this transition and will provide updates as they become available,” the casino said.

Trust in Terry

Glebocki was appointed CEO of Ocean in December 2019 after serving on an interim basis for several months.

The Boardwalk casino formerly known as Revel (2012-2014) had been financially struggling since it reopened in June 2018 as Ocean.

Luxor Capital Group, a New York-based hedge fund, took control of Ocean in early 2019. Shortly after, Luxor installed a team of experienced Atlantic City casino executives and invested millions of dollars in capital improvements.

From bottom to top tier of AC casinos

Between February 2019 and February 2020, Ocean went from last among AC’s nine casinos to sixth in terms of land-based gambling revenue. By February 2021, Ocean was third in the market behind only Borgata and Hard Rock.

Through the first six months of 2021, Ocean reported $24.9 million in gross operating profits. Two years ago, the casino hotel posted $12.75 million in losses over the same period.

Ocean under new ownership?

Luxor is currently in the process of relinquishing some control of Ocean. Earlier this year, Ilitch Holdings Inc., a Michigan-based company that owns the Little Caesars pizza chain and operates Detroit’s MotorCity Casino Hotel, acquired a stake in Ocean Casino Resort

Luxor and Ilitch struck a deal that would give the latter up to 50% control of Ocean.

Last month, New Jersey gaming regulators approved a management agreement between the two parties.

The NJ Casino Control Commission will vote on Ilitich’s interim casino authorization during Wednesday’s public meeting.

AP Photo/Wayne Parry

NJ Sports Bettors Place $665 Million In August Wagers With Bigger Months Ahead

Now that NFL season is here, August’s NJ sports betting handle could soon look minuscule compared to an anticipated $1-billion month.

Now that NFL season is officially here, it seems highly unlikely the NJ sports betting monthly handle will come close to hitting August numbers again anytime in the near future.

This is because the $665 million in bets reported for August will likely look minuscule once September numbers are released next month. Why?

Well, it’s no secret the Garden State is on the verge of making history this NFL season with multiple months of wagers exceeding $1 billion. More on this below.

But before we get ahead of ourselves, here’s a closer look at the August results.

NJ sports betting revenue August 2021

The New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement released August figures on Thursday. Out of the $665 million wagered, $612.9 million came from online bettors. It amounts to a tad over 92%.

NJ sports betting revenue came in at just over $52 million, which is up 31.7% year over year.

Remember the big difference between 2021 and 2020 is the fact that Major League Baseball had the summer spotlight to itself.

Last summer, NBA and NHL teams were playing following their respective pandemic-forced shutdowns.

Overall, several NJ license holders put up solid August results.

Meadowlands Racetrack, led by FanDuel, sets the pace

The NJ sports betting story is still trending in the familiar direction of the Meadowlands Racetrack dominating the market. Out of the $52 million in revenue, $26.9 million came via the Meadowlands Racetrack. While the DGE does not break results down by the 21 operators, it’s understood that FanDuel Sportsbook is responsible for the bulk of it.

However, PointsBet also operates under the license. Going forward, starting with September results, SuperBook is now live via a market access deal with the Meadowlands. This means the North Jersey racetrack now has all three of its allotted online skins filled.

But to put the FanDuel/Points Bet results in perspective, the nine Atlantic City casinos reported a combined total of $22 million. This would be both mobile and retail. Keep in mind Bally’s Atlantic City currently only offers retail wagering via its FanDuel-branded book.

Other top August NJ sports betting performers

More than half of the AC total comes from another strong performance by Resorts Digital. The trio of DraftKings SportsbookFox Bet, and the Resorts-branded app combined for $12.9 million. Out of that total, nearly all of it came via mobile devices.

The understanding is DraftKings was the biggest contributor to this equation.

Borgata, led by BetMGM,  was the next closest (and a very distant third) with $4.7 million.

NFL betting season + NJ bettors = $1 billion?

Looking ahead, this theory on NJ sports betting handle breaking the $1-billion plateau is not some crazy random thought.

Sure, at one time, when the industry launched in 2018 the concept of it happening may have sounded insane. However, all it takes is one look back at 2020 results to see it’s only a matter of when, not if, it will happen.

In December 2020, Garden State bettors set a new national record with  more than $996.3 million in total wagers

Now there are some additional factors that could contribute to hitting the mark:

  • All nine Atlantic City casinos (for the first time ever) have a retail sportsbook.
  • Barstool Sportsbook, SuperBook, and Betway Sportsbook all recently launched, expanding the mobile market to 21 apps.
  • William Hill has been rebranded to Caesars Sportsbook (you may see a commercial or two when watching football).

Ironically, NJ was on target to crack $1 billion even without these new additions.

“With only a few college and NFL preseason games, August still showed the outsized effect football has on the sports-betting industry,” said Valerie Cross, analyst for PlayNJ.com. “Even if September falls short of $1 billion in wagering, we will likely get there before the end of the year.”

Oh, by the way, NJ sports gamblers have now pushed the year-to-date total past $6.1 billion.

AP Photo/Brynn Anderson

Bally’s Corp. OK’d By NJ To Operate Atlantic City Casino With Conditions

Bally’s Corp. is moving ahead with plans to renovate its Atlantic City casino as well as enter New Jersey’s lucrative online gaming market.

Bally’s Corp. can now aggressively move ahead with plans to renovate its Atlantic City casino. Entering New Jersey’s lucrative online gaming market is in the plans, too.

The NJ Casino Control Commission unanimously approved Bally’s Corp.’s petition for a full gaming license. The news comes following the Aug. 17 hearing.

Minimum of $100 million over five years

As part of the approval to own and operate Bally’s Atlantic City, state regulators stipulated that at least $100 million be reinvested into the Boardwalk casino hotel. This would be over the next five years.

“Capital improvements at Bally’s AC are critical to improve its quality and enhance its customer appeal. Bally’s has shown a willingness to invest in Bally’s AC to make it more attractive, more competitive, and more profitable,” said James Plousis, NJCCC chairman.

The prior owners — Caesars Entertainment and VICI Properties — will reimburse the new owners $30 million of the $100 million.

More workers needed at Bally’s AC

Additionally, the NJ Division of Gaming Enforcement recommended increasing employment levels at Bally’s AC.

The company agreed to both conditions at the license hearing.

“The Atlantic City casino industry has been a powerful economic engine and job creator for the state since its inception,” Plousis said. “Ensuring that the casinos maintain adequate staffing levels to safeguard gaming integrity is a critical regulatory function.”

Upping the ante on the Boardwalk

Bally’s Corp. (formally Twin River Worldwide Holdings) purchased the AC casino for $25 million in April 2020.

Seven months later, the Rhode Island-based company was granted interim authorization by NJ regulators.

At the time, the new owner agreed to a $90-million expenditure plan. However, those plans quickly changed. We’re talking about a 42-year-old property.

Bally’s opened its doors in December 1979.  Only Resorts Atlantic City (May 1978) and Caesars Atlantic City (June 1979) are older.

So improving the look is key to Bally’s future success.

“We expect Bally AC to remain a priority and anticipate an aggressive campaign to reintroduce the property to the market and create an atmosphere of excitement, energy, and rebirth,” Plousis said.

Breakdown of Bally’s spending plan

According to testimony, $35 million will be spent on hotel rooms. The remaining $65 million is being spent on various other renovations, additions, and upgrades.

Hotel room renovations will begin Sept. 17.

In terms of timing, here is the breakdown:

  • $25 million will be spent this year
  • $30 million by the end of 2022
  • $35 million in 2023
  • The final $15 million is slated for years four and five

The FanDuel Sportsbook is not part of the larger capital improvement plan.

However, multiple dining concepts, including Jerry Longo’s Meatballs & Martinis and Water Dog, fit the bill.

A new high-limit gaming space is currently under construction. And plans for a new lobby bar and pool and spa are in the works.

Stay tuned as details are coming soon.

If you’re looking for teaser images, check out the walls when arriving via the self-park entrance.

Sports betting, online casino coming soon

The long-term goal is to become a leading omnichannel casino operator, according to Phil Juliano, executive vice president and chief marketing officer for Bally’s Corporate.

In other words,  the company wants to offer customers both a land-based and online casino experience.

New Jersey and Atlantic City are critical components to both.

Bally’s Corp. is nearing completion of a $3.4 billion acquisition of Gamesys, a London-based online software development and gaming company.

“We’re an opportunistic company,” said Bally’s CEO George Papanier. “We look for opportunities that not only will put us in the markets where we feel that we can compete and obviously we feel there’s upside to that acquisition but also markets that provide us access to the growing i-gaming as well as sports betting space.”

AP Photo/Wayne Parry 

Caesars Entertainment Betting Big On Atlantic City Casino Market, New President

Caesars Entertainment’s new regional president in Atlantic City is tasked with overseeing a $400 million reinvestment in three casino hotels.

John Koster is fully embracing his new role as regional president of Caesars Entertainment’s three Atlantic City casinos. The 30-year gaming industry executive was appointed in June to oversee Caesars, Harrah’s Resort, and Tropicana in Atlantic City, as well as Harrah’s Philadelphia and Horseshoe Baltimore. Even with the daunting task of leading a recovering industry in a competitive market, Koster has about 400 million things in his favor. Caesars Entertainment is committing $400 million to its Atlantic City casinos over a three-year span.

“We’ve had massive competition in the Northeast, obviously, over the years that have impacted Atlantic City, not in a positive way,” Koster said during an exclusive interview with NJ Gambling Sites. “But..with the largest gaming company in the United States stepping up to the plate with our massive capital investment here, I think we’re going to be able to really recreate Atlantic City, at least in terms of from a Caesars’ perspective.”

Opportunities for Caesars Entertainment in AC

Having most recently been in charge of Harrah’s Lake Tahoe Hotel & Casino, Koster is enthusiastic and clear-eyed about his charge in Atlantic City.
“This, I think, is the biggest opportunity that I’ve seen in my entire career, which by the way spans many countries over many years,” he said inside the rebranded Caesars Sportsbook in Caesars AC.

“This is a great opportunity for Caesars (Entertainment) to really help Atlantic City, to develop Atlantic City, to reposition Atlantic City, and to bring in more customers on the Caesars side of the equation than we’ve ever brought in before and introduce them to this great location and these three great properties.”

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Renovating the Boardwalk ‘flagship’ of the Caesars Empire

The focal point of the reinvestment will be Caesars Atlantic City. Roughly $190 million will be used to reinvigorate the Boardwalk casino hotel.

“We view (Caesars) as our premium product in Atlantic City,” he said. “This one will be our flagship in Atlantic City. It’s got the great location. It’s got the Caesars name. But, quite frankly, it had been neglected for a number of years in terms of capital investment.”

Hundreds of hotel rooms will be renovated in the Ocean and Centurian towers this year. Two celebrity-chef restaurants will be unveiled soon. Upgraded slot products and a renovated casino floor are on the way.
And, Koster teased a new entertainment concept in the Wild Wild West Casino inside Caesars.

July 2022 is the target date for much of the work to be completed, he said.

More to be done in the Marina, too

Between Caesars AC and Harrah’s Resort AC, Caesars Entertainment is spending about $170 million on hotel room renovations.

Brand new Atrium Tower suites and mini-suites have already opened at Harrah’s Resort.

Next up is a $76 million makeover of about 960 hotel rooms in the Waterfront Tower, Koster said.

Two new restaurants — Rum Point Crab House and The Baywalk — debuted this summer. So did Vibe Dining at The Pool After Dark.

The buffet space at Harrah’s is going to be converted into a food court and bar. Coastal Craft Kitchen & Bar is also slated to receive some “love,” Koster added.

Online presence of Caesars Entertainment will benefit AC

Sports betting and online casino is another area where Caesars Entertainment is investing.

After buying sportsbook operator William Hill, Caesars Entertainment rebranded nearly all of its U.S. retail books and launched a mobile app under the Caesars Sportsbook name.

The Caesars Rewards loyalty program is now connected with sports, online, and land-based casinos across the country.

That, Koster said, will ultimately benefit its Atlantic City casinos.

“I think it is a synergy that we’re going to have that others are going to have a difficult time competing with because we have more locations than anybody else,” he said.

Photo by Bill Gelman 

Exclusive Interview: New Hard Rock Atlantic City VP Of Online Gaming Chats About Booming NJ Industry

Ray Stefanelli, the new vice president of online gaming at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City, answers a few questions about NJ iGaming.

Ray Stefanelli is the new vice president of online gaming at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City.

Stefanelli is a Lynchburg College graduate and New Jersey native. He has overseen several gaming segments during his three-decade career, including poker and online casino. He also has ties to the Hard Rock brand, serving as Seminole Gaming’s director of poker marketing in 2013.

“We are thrilled to welcome a 30-year industry professional like Ray back to the Hard Rock family,” said Joe Lupo, president of Hard Rock Atlantic City. “I am confident that Ray will continue to elevate our online gaming experience here in New Jersey, while playing an integral role in the expansion and development of the existing and future customer product with the Hard Rock Digital team.”

NJGamblingSites.com caught up with Stefanelli to chat about the Hard Rock Online Casino product, the Garden State market closing in on its first $1-billion year, and more.

 

NJGS: Briefly tell us about your background and experience with online gaming.

Ray Stefanelli: I have been in the gaming and hospitality industry for over 30 years, starting at land-based properties, then working with gaming consulting firms such as KPMG Consulting and PriceWaterhouseCoopers. I then moved into the online gaming space, working on the setup phase in New Jersey prior to 2013, before moving back to online operations full time in 2014. I am thrilled to be back working for Hard Rock, a globally recognized brand that has seen tremendous success, especially in the competitive Atlantic City market.

NJGS: New Jersey is home to the largest online gaming market in the U.S. Is there an opportunity to expand the Hard Rock online casino brand in NJ and how can it be done?

Ray Stefanelli: Hard Rock is one of the most globally recognized brands in the world and with the leadership team’s commitment to aligning Hard Rock Atlantic City and Hard Rock Online Casino, we have the unique ability to create parallel offerings between the two, providing customers with more access than ever before.

We are confident that whether they are a Hard Rock Online Casino customer, an on-property player, or both, their experience will be world-class and memorable.

NJGS: NJ online gamblers have a variety of options. What makes Hard Rock Online Casino unique and separates the brand from other online operators?

Ray Stefanelli: Hard Rock Online Casino stands out for many reasons, but most importantly the access and benefits customers have online and on property such as hotel and premiere headliner entertainment offers, award-winning food and beverage outlets, slot machines, table games, sports betting, and more.

Hard Rock Atlantic City has delivered on its promise to provide a diverse portfolio of enjoyable entertainment experiences for customers and online gaming will continue to be a great option for customers to enjoy a safe, secure, and hassle-free gaming experience.

NJGS: Hard Rock AC was the first to launch live online slots. How has that product been received by players and what is the future of live online slots?

Ray Stefanelli: Live Slots was a great way to illustrate to customers that Hard Rock Online Casino is progressive, authentic, and trustworthy. You can physically see your favorite slot machines as they are being played online and this has been a great way to transition to the full online experience.

Online gaming technology uses a random-number-generator to determine the outcome, the same technology used in a slot machine on the casino floor.

The customers love the ability to play their favorite games and Live Slots provides the opportunity to access them while providing a physical machine to confirm the veracity of online gaming.

NJGS: Online casinos have clearly benefited from sports betting in New Jersey. What steps can Hard Rock take to enhance its presence in the online sports betting space?

Ray Stefanelli: We understand the importance of online sports betting and the relationship it has with our online casino offering.

We will continue to offer sports betting, both retail and online for our customers, but will engage in a responsible manner. There are operators that won’t be profitable for years to come based on their strategy as it relates to going after sports market share at all costs. We will be responsible and continue to offer our customers the best online gaming experience, which will include online slots, table games, live dealer, and sports products.

We will also ensure we do this with integrity and with our key stakeholders considered, including our owners, customers, and team members.

NJGS: NJ is on pace to exceed $1 billion in annual online casino revenue. Does the market’s size surprise you and what are your expectations going forward?

Ray Stefanelli: The market size does not surprise me at all. With such [a] dense population and propensity to game, New Jersey continues to have strong performance in the online space.

Moving forward, I expect operators will move away from mass acquisition strategies and begin to focus on profitability and bottom-line results. Having said that, I am confident that our strategy is aligned with core business objectives.

Photo provided by Hard Rock Atlantic City 

Game Changer: Farewell William Hill, Say Hello To Rebranded Caesars NJ Sportsbook App

The Caesars Sportsbook national rebranding campaign is underway this week as William Hill NJ sports betting app makes Garden State exit.

William Hill is in the process of fading out of the NJ sports betting spotlight as it is being rebranded as Caesars Sportsbook.

Call it the culmination of Caesars Entertainment completing the purchase of William Hill and merging the two names into a new product.  The company sent out a press release early Monday morning to announce a national marketing campaign.

And it even includes a TV spot featuring actor J.B. Smoove from the HBO hit comedy Curb Your Enthusiasm.

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Building up the new Caesars Sportsbook

Keep in mind, Caesars Sportsbook is far from a new player to the NJ sports betting game. It’s actually been available to Garden State bettors since September 2018.

The new mobile experience offers “unprecedented promotions, new product features, along with integration with Caesars Rewards, the largest customer loyalty program in the industry.”

Basically, it’s a multi-million dollar comprehensive marketing campaign. And it’s being rolled out just in time for the NFL betting season.

According to the release, this is the culmination of a drive to “create a best-in-class sports betting experience befitting the nation’s largest gaming operator.”

Tom Reeg, CEO of Caesars Entertainment, said the company is excited about launching the new comprehensive marketing campaign.

“The rebranded and upgraded offerings for our Caesars Sportsbook will provide customized offers, flexible limits, a wide range of betting lines, and an intuitive user experience,” said Reeg. “Caesars Sportsbook also brings players into an empire of play where, win or lose, every wager gives them more through our award-winning Caesars Rewards.”

What happens to William Hill NJ sportsbook?

Well, at some point this week, NJ bettors will be sent directly to the new Caesars Sportsbook.

Customers who tried accessing the William Hill Sportsbook via web browser on Monday morning found this Caesars welcome message:

Android users noticed the Caesars branding on the William Hill app. However, iOS users still noticed the latter name when opening the app.

More about the Caesars Sportsbook app features

So what do we know about the new Caesars Sportsbook?

The platform operates on Liberty, which is Caesars Entertainment’s owned and integrated tech stack. The bigger deal, however, is how every wager will earn users Caesars Rewards.

And it doesn’t matter if it’s a winning or losing ticket.

Those tier and reward credits can be redeemed online or in-person at Harrah’s Resort, Caesars, or Tropicana in Atlantic City.  They also are good for any of the 50 Caesars Entertainment destinations, across 16 states, Las Vegas Strip included.

The potential perks include:

  • Free play
  • Dining
  • Getaways
  • Specially curated sports and entertainment experiences

Caesars eying bigger slice of sports betting pie

When it comes to NJ sports betting, FanDuelDraftKings, and BetMGM are the market leaders. If we’re talking big four, add the former William Hill to the list.

The rebranding now gives Caesars a much larger slice of the NJ sports betting revenue. New Jersey, not Nevada, is the top mobile sports wagering market in the nation.

Just look at the year-to-date numbers through June. Total handle, which includes retail, sits at $4.9 billion and counting.

Sports wagering revenue comes in at $368.3 million.

In a mature market like New Jersey, building a strong customer base is key. Don’t be surprised if several more NJ sports betting apps launch sometime during the 2021 NFL season.

The Caesars team is more focused on offering NJ bettors the best user experience possible.

Eric Hession, co-president of Caesars Digital, says: “We want to treat every Caesars Sportsbook player like a Caesar.”

“We understand that we need to be nimble, we need to give bettors what they want in terms of depth of odds and breadth of sports, and we need to make our app easy and fun to navigate,” said Hession

What about the NJ retail sportsbooks

Anyone who frequents Garden State retail sportsbook locations is well aware the William Hill name is a prominent one.

Out of the 12 retail books around the Garden State, five of them have the William Hill branding.

This will of course be changing.

Besides the three AC casinos, there are William Hill sportsbooks at Monmouth Park and Ocean Casino Resort.

According to the press release, the former will be rebranded as a Caesars Sportsbook.

As far as Ocean Casino goes, the William Hill name is staying for now. But don’t expect it to last.