Hard Rock Hotel & Casino is joining the Atlantic City reinvestment parade pledging to spend a minimum of $20 million on capital improvements.
Hard Rock Hotel & Casino is joining the Atlantic City reinvestment parade, even as the coronavirus pandemic continues to disrupt business for the seaside resort’s nine gambling parlors.
On Monday, Hard Rock said it will spend a minimum of $20 million on capital improvements. Planned projects include suite renovations, a Boardwalk Starbucks, additional slots and table games, a new dining outlet, and updated beachfront amenities.
“The commitment of these capital dollars from our ownership proves their devotion to enhancing our guest experience, along with the revitalization of Atlantic City and our property which opened after a $500 million renovation less than three years ago,” said Joe Lupo, president of Hard Rock Atlantic City.
Hard Rock details $20 million spending plan
According to a news release, the majority of Hard Rock’s investment will go towards renovating 66 Celebrity and 25 Roxy suites. Additionally, all standard hotel rooms are getting new flatscreen TV monitors and LED lighting.
The new Starbucks is located with Boardwalk access adjacent to the Hard Rock Cafe. The Starbucks will open in late May.
Details for a new dining concept will be announced soon. Whatever surprise is in store will be opening this summer, the casino said.
In concert with this year’s U.S. Army Corps of Engineers beach replenishment project in Atlantic City, Hard Rock will be expanding its Beach Bar. More than 1,000 beach chairs and restrooms will be added to the popular summer spot.
New games will be coming to the Asian and High Limit areas, and the main casino floor.
Finally, Hard Rock will be making programming and sound enhancements to both Hard Rock Live at Etess Arena and Sound Waves. Other improvements will be made to the resort’s meeting/convention spaces and the indoor pool.
Atlantic City casino reinvestment is all the rage in 2021
The multi-million dollar pledge by Hard Rock is the latest in a string of reinvestment announcements at Atlantic City casinos.
The spending spree by AC casinos is a positive sign by an industry still reeling from one of the worst financial years in history. Collectively, AC casino industry profits were down more than 80% in 2020 due to COVID-19 and the ensuing business constraints.
Despite that, AC casino operators are spending big in 2021 and beyond. Caesars Entertainment, the parent company of three Atlantic City properties, plans to invest $400 million by 2023, including $170 million this year.
Ocean Casino Resort announced upgrades that will include the casino floor and player’s lounges, as well as culinary hospitality experiences.
As the only Atlantic City casino to report increased operating profits last year during the coronavirus pandemic, Ocean Casino Resort will reinvest $15 million into the property, employees, and the surrounding North Beach area.
Upgrades include casino floor and player’s lounges, as well as pools and cabanas, beach, culinary hospitality, and entertainment experiences, Ocean said in a release Monday.
Ocean is earmarking more than $1 million for annual wage increases and bonuses to eligible employees. Ocean Casino Resort and owner, Luxor Capital Group, will also be donating $50,000 to local charities.
“Ocean’s interest in our people, product, and community is a testament to the progressive direction our property is moving toward as we enter into the summer months,” said Terry Glebocki, CEO of Ocean and president of the Casino Association of New Jersey.
The revival of Ocean Casino Resort
Once a property under financial distress, Ocean more than tripled annual gross operating profits in 2020. The casino reported $21.8 million last year, up from $6.7 million the year before.
Of AC’s nine casinos, Ocean was the only operator to report a year-over-year increase, according to data from state gaming regulators.
As a whole, operating profits for the entire Atlantic City casino industry were down 80.2% in 2020. Casinos had to close for nearly four months and reopened with operating limitations.
But Ocean’s fiscal success in 2020 is in stark contrast to its early performance and suggests the property is on the right track.
Just months after the former Revel Casino Hotel reopened in 2018, state gaming officials expressed concern about Ocean’s financial stability. The casino lost $23 million in its first seven months of operation, forcing Luxor to assume control in early 2019.
What’s in store at Ocean?
A reconfigured casino floor and 250 new slot machines are in the works. Another upgrade is an easy-to-navigate walkway through the casino.
Additionally, a new high-limit table games venue and Asian gaming space will be unveiled soon.
There are also plans for two new guest lounges for Ocean Rewards cardmembers.
“As restrictions are lifted and we begin reopening additional areas of our business, I am thrilled at the opportunity to present our guests with an evolving gaming experience that is unique to the market,” Glebocki said.
Ocean recently opened The Cove, a new high-limit slot area, and The Loft, a private invitation-only table games area.
Employees, charities sharing in Ocean’s success
More than $1 million will provide wage increases and bonuses to Ocean employees. Ocean employed 11% (more than 2,300 jobs) of the total workers in AC casinos.
Ocean and Luxor also pledged to donate $50,000 to a number of local charitable organizations, including AtlantiCare Foundation’s Growing Green Initiative, South Jersey Boardriders, Covenant House of New Jersey, and The Boys & Girls Club of Atlantic City.
“With success comes responsibility, and there is no greater responsibility than doing what’s right,” said Glebocki. “Thanks to the hard work, determination, and commitment of our team, Ocean had a successful 2020, allowing us to issue wage increases, as well as give back to our local North Beach community.”
New players at Ocean Casino Resort
The reinvestment announcement comes on the heels of a new ownership partner for Ocean.
Earlier this month, 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.
Luxor reached a deal for Ilitch to acquire, through an affiliate, up to half the ownership of the casino.
Luxor said “the Ilitch organization recognizes the success that the team at Ocean has achieved over the past two years.”
DraftKings has signed on as a sponsor and announced its unique PFL MMA betting markets ahead of the 2021 regular season, which starts Saturday.
PFL MMA betting and DraftKings Sportsbook go together like jujitsu and wrestling. The latter brings a powerful brand sponsorship while the former offers an intriguing new category of prop bets based on analytics and biometrics.
On Tuesday, the PFL announced it has designated DraftKings as its official daily fantasy and sportsbook partner. Markets for the first event of the season, set for this Saturday, April 23, are live now.
In exchange for its sponsorship money, DraftKings gets more than that title. The venue for the bouts, which is Ocean Casino Resort in Atlantic City for the entire 2021 regular season, will be adorned in DraftKings signage. DraftKings will get mentions during the fight broadcasts, which will be available on several different platforms throughout the six events.
This Saturday’s action starts at 5:30 p.m. on ESPN+ then continues on ESPN2 at 9 p.m. The card features 10 fights, highlighted by Clay Collard vs. Anthony Pettis. Pettis is a -590 favorite on the moneyline as of Tuesday morning.
NJ bettors also have the option of wagering on whether or not the fight will go the distance. Yes is +130, No is -177.
In addition to the betting markets where permissible, DraftKings plans to offer PFL pools. During the PFL’s 2019 season, activity in those games garnered over 30,000 submissions nationwide.
However, it’s the potential ramifications for the future that the PFL presents that might be of greatest intrigue to bettors. Regulators in NJ might need some convincing in order for it to reach its potential, though.
PFL’s fights are unique in the MMA universe because the broadcasts share a wealth of information about fights in progress. The league’s proprietary SmartCage technology shares data like fighter location and the speed of fighters’ kicks and punches.
There is also biometric data in the mix as well. So far, that’s consisted of fighters’ estimated caloric burn and heart rate.
According to the press release, “this data will eventually allow for innovative and distinctive prop bets.” For that to happen in NJ, though, the state Division of Gaming Enforcement would have to be on board.
Currently, prop wagers based on analytics and athlete biometrics like this are not permissible. In order for that to change, regulators will likely need to be convinced that the data is free from manipulation and reliable.
If successful, the PFL could be instrumental in opening up such markets in NJ. For the time being, there is still plenty of action on these fights for DraftKings customers in NJ.
For those who haven’t noticed it, the Garden State now has 19 sports betting apps, as Tipico Sportsbook is in its soft-launch period.
Do we hear 20 NJ sportsbook apps?
The scenario is certainly a realistic possibility for 2020.
Tipico, operating via a land-based partnership with Ocean Casino Resort, started its soft launch as mandated by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) last week. The full launch is expected soon.
And it seems Tipico is excited about having skin in the game.
Since launching in August 2018, the NJ mobile sports betting market has expanded at a rapid rate. A total of nine apps launched during those first five months. The options have more than doubled in size, with some rebranding along the way.
But 2020 as a whole has been relatively quiet in terms of new apps. Wynn Sports is the only other newcomer following its early August launch.
Meanwhile, market leaders FanDuel Sportsbook and DraftKings Sportsbook are in their third season of NFL betting. Looking at September NJ sports betting revenue, the two brands are clearly leading the pack.
Meadowlands Racetrack (FanDuel and PointsBet NJ) claimed a 63% market share. Resorts Digital (DraftKings, Fox Bet and Resorts) finished an extremely distant second with a 12% slice of the pie.
Ocean Casino, on the other hand, and its partner William Hill, came in at a tad below 6%.
Gaining traction this late in the game and eight weeks into the NFL season presents its share of challenges.
At the same time, launching in New Jersey makes perfect sense for any mobile operator looking to get a piece of US legal sports betting.
For one, it’s hard to ignore the $750 million in betsthat NJ reported for September. This is the highest total ever reported by a US jurisdiction, Nevada included. And 90% of those wagers came via NJ sportsbook apps.
After Tipico received DGE approval last month, Adrian Vella, managing director, US business, commented on why New Jersey makes sense.
“At Tipico, we knew that New Jersey would be the perfect state for us to kick-start our business in the US because of its sophisticated mobile sports betting audience and mature regulatory and licensing environment,” said Vella.
“With an incredible pool of local talent in the New York metro area, we’re thrilled to establish our headquarters in Hoboken and continue expanding our team. We’ve dedicated significant time and energy to build a long-term foundation for the US market, and today marks an important milestone in that journey for Tipico.”
Who in the world is Tipico Sportsbook?
The key to the Tipico team is introducing its brand to New Jersey customers.
Bettors who are doing NFL odds shopping may not take Tipico into consideration, since it’s an unknown entity.
European-based Tipico, which was founded in 2004, is Germany’s leading sports betting provider. So it’s no surprise that the operator is offering Bundesliga (the top German soccer league) odds.
Here is a list of the American sports available via the app:
Judging by the Tipico Twitter feed, the operator is trying to introduce itself to NFL bettors.
Tipico is the newest app to the NJ market, but more are coming.
Each license holder can have up to three online skins. And in the case of Ocean, there is room for one more.
Then there is Freehold Raceway, which launched its business in September. There is no doubt mobile apps will be launching under its license in the very near future. This is the most likely path for Barstool Sportsbook’s NJ launch.
And once Twin River Worldwide Holdings completes the purchase of Bally’s AC, expect to see three more apps there.
So having 20 NJ sportsbook apps by the end of 2020 is now considered what bettors refer to as a “lock.”
Setting the over/under line for NJ sportsbook apps at 25 suddenly looks like a realistic possibility for 2021.
Since betting on college football and the NFL are so popular, NJ sportsbooks will likely see even more betting action this season than in their inaugural year.
Yes, there are 14 betting apps in the Garden State, but there are also 10 retail sportsbooks across the state.
The majority of these land-based sportsbooks are based in Atlantic City. But all 10 of them are up and running with new permanent spaces.
Sportsbooks are a great place to spend time during the fall weekends. Gamblers can enjoy quality food and drink while being able to watch and bet on every football game played each weekend.
But what’s the plan at the sportsbooks? Will it be the same old or something new? Will there be seat reservations on those busy Saturdays or a Monday Night Football drink special?
We took a closer look at a few (not all) of the sportsbooks in NJ to see what they have in store when the pigskins start to fly.
Sportsbook: Moneyline Bar & Book
Reservations (if available): 609-317-7249
Reservation price range: $75-$100 food/drink minimum at VIP tables, private VIP areas are $1,000 for 10 people
Moneyline Bar & Book has a 40-foot-wide LED video wall along with betting windows and lots of places to sit. It also features a 35-foot-long bar that includes more than 20 craft beers and a new dining menu by Executive Chef Tom Biglan.
Outside of the barstools, high-top tables and booths, there is additional seating inside the VIP lounge.
In order to sit in the VIP lounge, customers must make a reservation. The VIP tables will include a food/drink minimum ranging from $75 to $100.
Other private VIP areas run around $1,000 for 10 people.
Pricing for the VIP seating will vary depending on the specific day and which games are available for viewing. There will most likely be discounted beer and food specials that will be announced the week prior.
Fantasy football fans are welcome, too
For fans who enjoy playing fantasy football, Borgata has you covered, too. Moneyline offers several draft party packages ranging from $59 per person to $1,500 per person.
The sportsbook will provide you and your friends a personal draft day area as well as a draft board, commemorative merchandise, and much more.
DraftKings Sportsbook inside Resorts in Atlantic City has plenty to offer as well. At 5,000 square feet, the book features multiple ultrahigh definition-LED video walls, including a 15-foot wall.
The sportsbook, which opened in November 2018, has 18 self-betting kiosks and five betting windows available for its customers.
Every Sunday through Thursday, DraftKings will have a happy hour from 2 to 7 p.m. It will feature $4 beers, $6 well drinks, and $1 off any food item through the entire football season.
If that doesn’t suit your football fancy, guests can enjoy drink specials every Sunday all day during regular season football games.
On Friday nights, from the start of the season until the Super Bowl, the sportsbook will have Ladies’ Night. The evening will consist of teaching the basics around sports betting as well as discounted drinks and half-priced sushi. Participants will also receive a $5 free bet.
As for game days, there is VIP seating with food and bottle service available. The VIP lounge consists of four different sections that hold up to a total of about 50 people. There is a $50 food and beverage minimum to sit in these areas.
The sportsbook also has stadium seating for around 50-60 free guests.
Reservation price range: Call the sportsbook/casino for details.
The William Hill Sportsbook at Ocean Casino Resort was one of the first books to open in Atlantic City. Set up smack dab in the middle of the casino floor, it’s 7,500-square-feet of sports betting, complete with a large video wall that encompasses almost the entirety of the book.
On Sept. 7, starting at 10 a.m., the sportsbook will be celebrating the return of football with its Kick Off to Football Season 2019. After placing a wager, customers are eligible to receive a free William Hill T-shirt.
The sportsbook will offer food and drink specials all day, too. Customers can enjoy $2 hot dogs as well as Bud Lite buckets for just $30.
Then at 7 p.m., there will be a pep rally at the Fire Pit at Lobby Bar. A live band along with the Atlantic City Blackjack Cheerleaders will be there to start the season of football betting on the right foot.
That suite football feeling…
But if you can’t be there on Sept. 7, don’t fret. Ocean Casino and William Hill customers can win a Suite Season Giveaway as well.
Customers can enter the drawing at the casino’s website, and once done, you become eligible to win an overnight stay for two and a VIP Hospitality Suite overlooking the sportsbook sometime during the 2019 season. That suite can hold up to six people and comes with complimentary food and beverage.
The contest ends on Aug. 31, and a winner will be announced Sept. 3.
As far as watching games at the sportsbook, William Hill offers Skybox Suite reservations for those who don’t win the contest. Customers must call to reserve pricing and suites. Each suite holds up to 10 guests.
Sportsbook: FanDuel Sportsbook at the Meadowlands
Reservations (if available): None
Reservation price range: Not available
The FanDuel Sportsbook located at the Meadowlands is one of the few land-based sportsbooks in NJ not in Atlantic City. The nearly 7,000-square-foot facility comes equipped with 30 betting windows, 20+ self-betting kiosks, and 82 TV screens.
FanDuel Sportsbook has three locations inside the Meadowlands Racetrack and has a lot to offer at each. There are high-top tables, barstools, couches, leaning rails, dining chairs, and even a VIP area.
The sportsbook features American food you’d typically expect to find at sporting events. However, unlike the previous locations, the VIP seating is not open to the public unless you are betting a total of $150,000 every 30 days.
That being said, there are no other upfront costs to enjoy a football game here. Everything else is first come, first serve.
Just be careful of those Sundays when the New York Giants or Jets have a home game at nearby MetLife Stadium.
On those days, there is a parking fee and it can be a trick to find a parking spot.
Sportsbook: The Book at Harrah’s
Reservations (if available): Online at Harrah’s website or call 609-441-5800
Reservation price range: Call the sportsbook/casino for details.
Harrah’s sportsbook, known as The Book, is yet another Atlantic City destination this football season. The Book has almost 4,000 square feet of space.
There are TVs across almost every wall and extra plush seating all around the sportsbook. The Book also features food options from the AC Burger Company.
For groups looking to enjoy the games, The Book also has two additional Fan Caves that can hold up to 10 people. The caves provide a more private and upgraded viewing experience and include table service.
In order to reserve a seat or a fan cave at the sportsbook, customers must fill out a form on Harrah’s website or call 609-441-5800 to reserve.
Sportsbook: The Sportsbook
Reservations (if available): None
Reservation price range: Not available
Another Atlantic City retail sportsbook available for those NFL bets and football games is at the Golden Nugget. The Sportsbook, as it is called, showcases more than 50 TVs on five separate video walls.
There is seating for more than 100 people including barstools, chairs, cushioned seats, and couches.
However, the Golden Nugget doesn’t sell its sportsbook’s tables. As of today and heading into the football season, tables will be granted on a first-come, first-serve basis.
If you happen to miss out on grabbing a table, you’re still more than welcome to eat and drink. There will be food and cocktail service within the Golden Nugget sportsbook every day.
The Sportsbook will also have food and drink specials throughout the season. These could include a discounted bucket of beer.
Golden Nugget’s sportsbook will sometimes reward bettors for making sizable wagers. For example, if someone bets over $100, they’ll receive a free drink, too.
Sportsbook: The Book at Bally’s
Reservations (if available): Visit the Bally’s website to reserve a table/fan cave.
Reservation price range: $50-$600
Located in Bally’s Wild Wild West Casino, this is by far the biggest sportsbook in AC. At 15,000+ square feet, The Book has plenty to offer when it comes to enjoying football season.
Its sportsbook is running a Fired Up For Football promotion that reserves seating inside the sportsbook for every football game.
It doesn’t matter if it’s a Monday, Thursday, or Sunday, Bally’s is prepared for football viewing.
To reserve a table or seat, customers must go to the sportsbook’s website. Here, you’ll able to choose between several different options. The choice you make depends on how you prefer to watch the game.
Table choices include:
Stadium Billiard: Includes reserved billiard table for up to four people.
Stadium Table: Includes a reserved table for up to four people.
Stadium VIP: Available for groups of five or more.
Large Fan Cave: Accommodates up to 25 people.
Small Fan Cave: Accommodates up to 16 people.
These range from $50-$600 depending on if the reservation is for a weekday or a weekend. Weekend reservations are obviously on the higher end as those are top viewing hours. Fan caves, however, are reserved for the entire day of the reservation.
Here’s a quick breakdown of rental options at Bally’s sportsbook. Prices and availability are subject to change:
What You Get
$50 food/beverage minimum, one seat, all-day rental
Seating for up to four at billiard table
$100 food/beverage minimum, seating for up to four people
$300 food/beverage minimum, for groups of five or more, all-day reservation
Fan Cave (Standard)
$250 food/beverage minimum, seats up to 25, all-day rental
Fan Cave (Premium)
$600 food/beverage minimum, seats up to 25, all-day rental
Customers can even reserve just a single seat if they plan on enjoying football alone. This Stadium Seat, as well as the Stadium Table for four, is paid for by a minimum spend on food and drink. But the seat is yours for the whole day.
Whatever your choice, all of Bally’s sportsbook reservations can be made online.
On a side note: Bally’s will more than likely have food and drink specials for the football season. These will be announced closer to kickoff.
Sportsbook: William Hill Sportsbook at Tropicana Atlantic City
Reservations (if available): Day-of call 609-340-4022; advanced and group reservations call 609-342-7785
Reservation price range: Call the sportsbook/casino for details.
A lot of football fans will find themselves at William Hill’s other AC sportsbook located at the Tropicana.
This newer retail sportsbook debuted in March and has a lot for customers to enjoy. It’s packed with 180 seats as well as a bar and lounge to watch upwards of 16 games at one time.
In fact, the sportsbook has more than 1,000 square feet of video display.
Although there is no food available inside the William Hill sportsbook, the space is located right across from Chickie’s and Pete’s Crab House & Sports Bar.
Fans often grab some food and head right into the sportsbook.
General seating at the sportsbook remains first come, first serve unless a reservation has been made. Customers can sit at any of the available seats on the sportsbook floor, or they can reserve a spot in the elevated VIP lounge area.
Football betting, viewing, and NJ sportsbooks
Keep in mind that any option you choose for football viewing and betting also comes with all of those NJ sports betting apps. But those apps are just one part of the equation this year.
The casinos and racetracks aren’t resting on their laurels either. It would seem customers have plenty of options when it comes to where to bet and watch when the first game kicks off.