Hard Rock Looked Into Buying TEN AC Before Settling On Trump Taj Mahal

While exploring options to get into the New Jersey casino business, Hard Rock first considered TEN Resort before buying the Taj Mahal Casino.

Turns out it was not love at first sight which spurned on the sale of the Taj Mahal in Atlantic City to Hard Rock International. According to Hard Rock CEO Jim Allen, the Taj Mahal was one of two contenders. The shuttered Revel nee TEN AC was the other.

As tends to be the case when it comes to anything involving TEN or its owner Glenn Straub though, there is dispute over just how true Allen’s claims are.

Hard Rock has been interested in NJ casino market for a while

There is certainly validity to the claim Hard Rock has been looking to find a way into the New Jersey casino business long before it purchased the Taj Mahal.

Last year, Hard Rock International was one of the groups pushing the voter referendum to expand brick-and-mortar casinos in New Jersey to the northern part of the state. The referendum failed by record numbers, so the plans to build a Hard Rock property next to the Meadowlands Stadium were put on the backburner.

Allen spoke with Press of Atlantic City about how the group came to purchase the Taj Mahal. “We looked at Revel,” he said. “First, it’s designed to the highest levels. When it opened, it was a $1.2 billion property. The layout, the amount of rooms, Etess Arena, Xanadu made it attractive to us.”

Joseph Jingoli, who has been tasked with helping redevelop the end of the Boardwalk where TEN and Taj Mahal are located, basically admitted Taj Mahal was a case of sloppy seconds.

“The Taj thing, it just kind of happened. We were trying to do the Revel, and then this came up.”

Straub denies any serious sale talks occurred

Straub was quick to dismiss the suggestion he was selling the casino resort.

“Never talked with anyone about Revel,” Straub said when asked about the Hard Rock inquiries. “When I purchased the property, many people made offers.”

Those two sentences seemingly contradict one another. First Straub says he did not discuss selling. Then he says he has had offers.

Either way, Straub does have a history of denying conversations take place and pointing fingers. Ever since he purchased the distressed Revel property, Straub has been fighting with everyone from the city to the state senate to the Division of Gaming Enforcement to the power company. Most recently he drew raised eyebrows for comparing the process of re-opening TEN to “rape.”

Straub did wish the new owners well on the endeavor. The Taj Mahal and TEN are located close to one another, but Straub thinks the new property will help his resort more than hurt it.

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Still room on the Boardwalk for more casino operators?

There is still the possibility a different casino player gets into the Southeast Inlet area of the city through TEN. Straub has been clear he has no intention to operate the casino portion of his property and is intending to lease the gaming space to someone else.

Atlantic City officials insist Straub needs a gaming license before TEN can re-open with a casino. Sen. Ray Lesniak has introduced a bill that would exempt “landlords” like Straub, but it has yet to make any progress in the state legislature.

After Buying Trump Taj Mahal, Hard Rock Still Eyes North Jersey Casino

The news of Hard Rock International’s purchase of the Trump Taj Mahal doesn’t dampen the company’s desire to open North Jersey casino.

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.

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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.

Image credit: Richard Cavalleri / Shutterstock.com 

Hard Rock ‘100 Percent Convinced’ In Success Of Revamped Trump Taj Mahal

Hard Rock International made it official on Thursday, announcing its acquisition of the Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City.

Hard Rock International made it official on Thursday, announcing its acquisition of the Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City, leading a group of other investors.

The news came to light on Wednesday, when media reports and Icahn Enterprises indicated that the shuttered resort casino was being sold to Hard Rock.

The new resort will be called Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City, although it will not be opening up immediately.

The Taj Mahal acquisition, at a glance

Hard Rock is a company that operates restaurants, resorts and casinos around the country. The Seminole Tribe of Florida owns the company.

“We are excited to be part of this revitalization of Atlantic City creating thousands of jobs to help local employment,” Jim Allen, chairman of Hard Rock International, said in a press release. “We are 100 percent convinced Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City will be a success.”’

Owner Carl Icahn announced his intention to sell the property just last month, and said he would like to focus on his other AC property, The Tropicana. Icahn closed the Taj in October.

Hard Rock talks plans for AC resort

What do we know about the plans of Hard Rock? More than we did yesterday. Here are some of the details:

  • Hard Rock and its partners in the deal will invest “$300 million to purchase, substantially renovate and re-open the casino.”
  • The resort has a planned reopening window in the summer of 2018, according to the Press of AC.
  • The casino resort will likely look nothing like its former self, as Hard Rock indicated it was undertaking a “complete remodel and rebrand” of the property.
  • Hard Rock estimated the project will create more than 3,000 jobs for Atlantic City.
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Hard Rock gets its shot in New Jersey

Hard Rock had its eye on the New Jersey casino market already.

It had ben in line to operate a casino in partnership with Meadowlands Racetrack in the event that North Jersey casinos were authorized in the state. However, that effort was turned back in a lopsided referendum defeat in November.

That left AC as the only path into New Jersey in the short term, with Trump Taj Mahal looking like an attractive target when Icahn put it on the market. Hard Rock already operates a restaurant on the property that is active even though the resort closed.

Image credit: grivet / Shutterstock.com