Staying In Atlantic City For A While? You Can Now Rent An Apartment At The Showboat

The casino on the property remains closed, but the Showboat Hotel in Atlantic City is now offering long-term rentals for weekly or monthly stays.

Just in time for the busy summer season on the Jersey Shore, the Showboat Hotel in Atlantic City now offers long-term rentals.

According to a press release from Philadelphia’s Tower Investments, the Showboat is currently offering weekly and monthly rentals on fully outfitted studio, one-, and two-bedroom luxury apartments.

Tower Investments President and CEO Bart Blatstein bought the former hotel and casino in January 2016 for $23 million. The Showboat reopened as a non-gaming hotel in July of that year.

“Open now for our third summer, we know how much our guests enjoy staying with us at Showboat,” said Blatstein in a statement.

“I’ve always believed in Atlantic City and my confidence hasn’t wavered. We continue to see exciting momentum and want to continue to be a part of that. New offerings like this will just keep making this great city even better and more attractive to guests.”

What the Showboat apartments include

The Showboat’s beachfront apartment rentals start at $1,300 a week for studios, $1,800 for one-bedrooms and $2,400 for two-bedrooms.

Each suite features a full kitchen with a dishwasher, oven, stovetop, refrigerator and microwave. Housekeeping services are available to provide linens and towels, and there are on-site laundry facilities.

Renters will also have access to storage space, complimentary parking, and the Matrxx, 24-hour, 14,000-square-foot fitness center on the property.

Blatstein said that offering guests the option for long-term stays just makes sense:

“We’ve been extremely successful in hosting meeting and conventions and have found the visitors who stay with us don’t want to leave. Now, they don’t have to. They can come and stay and enjoy all the city has to offer for as long as they’d like.”

The Showboat’s many faces in Atlantic City

Of course, the property first opened on the Boardwalk as the Showboat Hotel, Casino and Bowling Center in March 1987. It started with a 60,000-square-foot casino and a 60-lane bowling alley.

Harrah’s Entertainment, which is now Caesars Entertainment, bought out the property’s parent company in 1998. In 2001, Caesars shut the bowling alley down.

Two years later, Caesars added a new hotel tower. Caesars also made major improvements to the rest of the property over the next decade. This included the opening of a House of Blues, which faces the Boardwalk.

However, in June 2014, Caesars announced plans to close the Showboat to focus on its other Atlantic City casinos (Bally’s, Harrah’s and Caesars). Caesars finally shut the doors in August 2014.

In December of that year, Stockton University bought the property for $18 million. The university planned to turn it into a residential campus. However, that plan failed and Blatstein stepped in a little over a year later.

Blatstein has breathed new life into the Showboat by reopening it in phases. He started with 852 oceanfront rooms and suites in 2016. Then, he opened all 1,331 rooms and suites in the summer of 2018.

A new Showboat Casino?

For now, the Showboat Hotel remains a non-gaming property.

When Hard Rock Casino and Ocean Casino Resort opened nearby on the north end of the Boardwalk last summer, Blatstein began taking a serious look at gaming again.

Hard Rock and Ocean Casino did open in June 2018. Nine months later, in March 2019, the state’s Casino Control Commission granted Blatstein preliminary approval to go after an NJ gambling license.

Blatstein is now pursuing the license, hoping to break ground on a new Showboat Casino on a plot of adjacent land.

Those plans are still in the working stages. In the meantime, the AC hotel’s new long-term apartments are available for rent.

Will The Return Of The Showboat Casino Spell Doom For Atlantic City?

Owner Bart Blatstein has big plans to bring the Showboat casino back to life. Now with preliminary approval, can Atlantic City handle 10 casinos?

Is the Showboat Casino coming back to life?

Property owner Bart Blatstein is at least seriously considering the idea. He appeared before the Casino Control Commission on March 18 and was granted preliminary approval to pursue a casino license.

The Philadelphia developer is not offering much in the way of details. But according to an Associated Press article, he believes the Atlantic City market can handle one more casino.

“There are 104 casinos in Las Vegas in the middle of nowhere. We have nine casinos well within a short trip from one-third of the nation’s population. The market is looking for something different.”

Reviving former casino sites is becoming an ongoing theme along the Uptown section of the Atlantic City Boardwalk.

Showboat sits between the two newest additions — Hard Rock Atlantic City and Ocean Resort. The rebranded Trump Taj Mahal and Revel, respectively, both reopened on June 28 of last year.

But are 10 casinos a good idea for AC right now?

What we know about the Showboat casino plans

Caesars Entertainment closed the Showboat in August 2014 for not being “profitable enough.” The company placed a deed restriction on the property that it could not operate as a casino for 10 years. That restriction expires in 2024.

But Blatstein found a loophole around it.

According to the AP, the casino will not be part of the existing structure.

The plans are to build it on a vacant lot that Blatstein owns next to the Showboat. The former outdoor volleyball court is not included in the deed restriction. The two buildings can easily be connected.

Table games, slot machines, sports betting, and yes, NJ online gambling are all expected to be part of the proposed casino.

Blatstein plans on operating it through a third undisclosed party. And that company would need to be approved for a license.

10 casinos in Atlantic City: good or bad?

But there is an elephant in the room. How many casinos are too many for Atlantic City?

The opening of Hard Rock and Ocean brought fresh excitement to this previously struggling casino town. While the excitement was real, some see a downside.

According to the AP story, six of the seven casinos that were operating before the Hard Rock and Ocean joined the market won less from gamblers in 2018 over the previous year.

Once the gambling industry started expanding in nearby PennsylvaniaMaryland, and New York, AC was hit really hard.

Showboat was one of four properties to close its doors in 2014. Trump Plaza, the Atlantic Club, and Revel were the others. Trump Taj Mahal finally closed its doors in October 2016.

As such, the AC market fell from 12 casinos to seven in a matter of two years. Trump Plaza and Atlantic Club remain vacant with no plans to reopen.

At Ocean, the name is different but the story remains the same.

The casino portion of the business continues to struggle. In the meantime, the property is in the process of switching ownership once again, this time to Luxor Capital Group.

Showboat gambling in AC: then and now

But to understand the wishes of Showboat, you have to look back at its history and the history of the AC market.

The Showboat originally opened with a 60,000-square-foot casino back in 1987 and continued to offer slots and table games all the way up to its 2014 closing.

Blatstein purchased and reopened the property as a non-gaming hotel on July 8, 2016.

When Caesars Entertainment closed the property, NJ online gambling was still in its infancy. And the launch of legal sports betting in New Jersey remained an ongoing legal battle.

Fast forward to 2019, and NJ online casino revenue soars to the tune of back-to-back $30 million months.

The sports betting handle for the first two months of this year is at more than $700 million and climbing. With mobile sports betting accounted for the majority of that total, there are obviously new avenues to generate revenue.

Online gambling makes 10 casinos seem possible

So the upside is that gambling sites in New Jersey have allowed casinos to grow despite increased competition.

Case in point is Golden Nugget. On any other day without its NJ online casino, Golden Nugget would likely be on its last legs. Its land-based casino revenue falls way behind Borgata.

But with its market-leading casino app, Golden Nugget finds an edge among the nine casinos.

In January, AC casinos generated $230 million in revenue and 21 percent of that came from online gambling.

Bart and his big AC plans

Bringing back gambling is just part of Blatstein’s vision for the Showboat.

Last summer, around the time Hard Rock and Ocean opened, the property completed a series of renovations that included the addition of 479 guest rooms and a renovated restaurant.

Blatstein also is in the process of converting 400 of the property’s hotel rooms to 264 market-rate apartments and rentals. There is no update as to when the project will be completed.

There also is talk of converting the Showboat’s former bus depot into a family entertainment center.

But with Blatstein, the biggest question is when.

For example, Blatstein also owns The Playground that connects to Caesars via a skywalk over the Boardwalk.

He reopened the property in 2015, but things have not exactly played out according to the $50 million transformation plansT Street, a row of bars with different themes, was short lived.

And the complex that was once home to an Apple StoreTiffany’s, and Gucci remains mostly vacant.

Blatstein is clearly invested in Atlantic City and willing to take a gamble. But time will tell whether or not his big gambling plans come to fruition.

Showboat Atlantic City Gets A Makeover Amid Hard Rock, Ocean Resort Openings

Showboat Atlantic City unveiled a series of renovations and room additions on June 28, the same day Hard Rock Atlantic City and Ocean Resort Casino hosted their grand openings.

Consider it the Atlantic City version of an arms race.

This past week, history-rich Showboat Atlantic City unveiled major upgrades to its facility, including the addition of 479 guest rooms, a renovated restaurant, and several other amenity upgrades.

NJ.com posted several photos and videos of the upgrades, including guest rooms, several restaurants, and a fitness room.

A few upgrades in process at Showboat Atlantic City

Among the renovations and updates the Showboat completed are, as mentioned earlier, 470 guest rooms that, according to available photos and videos, feature a new color palette that includes purple and gold.

NJ.com noted that the hotel built a 3,200-square-foot arcade and a new fitness area that, at 14,000 square feet, is the largest such facility in Atlantic City.

Showboat also unveiled a smoothie bar and a completely redone restaurant as well.

Showboat’s upgrades a necessary move

All of these changes are evidence that Showboat owner Bart Blatstein was not willing to watch his hotel hide in the literal shadows of the Hard Rock Atlantic City and Ocean Resort Casino. The new properties sit on both sides of the Showboat.

While there was no official word from Blatstein or the hotel about its motive behind the renovations, one only has to look at the date in which those renovated areas of the hotel were all open to the public: June 28, the day that Hard Rock and Ocean Resort officially opened.

The property’s launch of its updates didn’t grab quite the headlines — if any — but it did point to a bigger concept.

Atlantic City casinos will do what they need to survive in an era where nine casinos are fighting for gambling dollars that were, just a few years ago, not enough to sustain 12 properties.

Showboat rooms cheaper, offer non-smoking options

Blatstein’s Showboat certainly doesn’t have the glamour of Hard Rock Atlantic City or the modern sheen of Ocean Resort. It also doesn’t have a casino floor, which closed in 2014 before the property was sold to Blatstein.

But what it lacks in aesthetic prowess and brand influence it has tried to make up for in the form of a family-friendly hotel with a formidable arcade and a more affordable stay.

A weekend booking in July for two adults and one child at the Showboat was $279 a night at the time of publishing. Of note is that the hotel offers non-smoking rooms.

The same reservation at Ocean Resort was $369; rooms are smoking rooms, certainly a drawback for families. A room for two adults and a child at Hard Rock AC averaged $404 per night with non-smoking options.

Competition among casinos equals wins for customers

As Showboat, Hard Rock, and Ocean Resort push to attract gamblers and lodgers through upgraded facilities and unique amenities, visitors seem to be the ones who win out.

For example, Ocean Resort Casino is home to the world’s biggest Topgolf Swing Suite, an 11-bay facility that features a lounge area and a bar.

Hard Rock’s Mark G. Etess Arena will be the site of many big-name concerts in the future, not the least of which was Carrie Underwood’s opening-weekend performance.

And the Showboat Atlantic City has its unique amenities, too. So while it can’t boast a casino floor, it still hopes to carve out its own niche in the new Atlantic City market.

Another Casino In Atlantic City? Showboat Hotel On The Hunt For NJ Casino License

Showboat owner Bart Blatstein applied for a statement of compliance from regulators. The move is a first step in applying for a New Jersey casino license.

When the Showboat re-opened as a hotel in 2016, you couldn’t help but notice that gambling was no longer a part of the property’s daily operations. That may change this year.

According to the Press of Atlantic City, Bart Blatstein, head of the development group that owns the Showboat, applied earlier this month for a statement of compliance from the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement. The application is the first step toward securing a casino license that would help Blatstein return the Showboat to its former gambling glory.

Blatstein provided the following eloquent commentary to the PoAC when asked about the application: “I’m just starting the process.”

A quick Showboat history lesson

The Showboat was one of five casinos that closed during Atlantic City’s disastrous 2014 casino contraction. That left AC’s finances in shambles and cleaved a hearty chunk off the treasure trove of nostalgia surrounding the city’s history.

Out of those severe ashes, only three properties will or already have re-opened: the Showboat, Ocean Resort Casino (the former Revel/Ten AC) and Hard Rock Atlantic City (formerly Trump Taj Mahal). The Showboat, however, re-opened as a hotel-only property.

What makes the Showboat’s hotel re-opening and the possible resurrection of its gaming floor unique are that it’s the only casino from the 2014 contraction that will, if all goes well, re-open under the same name it had when it shut down.

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What the process entails for the Showboat

Filing a statement of compliance is something included in Article 6 of the New Jersey Casino Control Act (CCA). The section on statements of compliance notes that applicants ask for a statement of compliance as a preliminary green light to pursue a casino license.

Here’s the exact wording of the CCA regarding statements of compliance:

“Upon consideration of a report and recommendation of the division, the commission may, in its discretion, issue a statement of compliance to an applicant for a casino license or to any person required to qualify in conjunction with a casino license or casino license applicant if the applicant or person, as the case may be, has established by clear and convincing evidence that one or more particular eligibility criteria have been satisfied.”

The criteria required from the NJDGE isn’t known at this point. But, according to Article 6, should the NJDGE issue a statement of compliance, they’ll detail exactly which requirement(s) Blatstein’s property met. In addition, the NJDGE will list any further steps that need to be taken to prepare the property and its ownership for casino licensing.

Can Atlantic City sustain three more casinos?

There’s no telling when the Showboat would open its gaming floor, but there’s a good chance Atlantic City will have nine casinos when that day comes.

The assumed opening of the Hard Rock Atlantic City and Ocean Resort Casino this summer will split up Atlantic City’s gambling revenues, making all properties fight hard for dollars.

With the addition of a ninth casino, those revenue dollars will be even harder to come by. And it makes one wonder who will lose out when all the properties are running at their peak levels. Will the smaller casinos such as Resorts start to crumble or will the pack catch up to Borgata?

Image credit: John Arehart / Shutterstock.com

Three Strikes And Millennial-Targeted Expo Is Out Of Business In Atlantic City

Just three weeks into a supposed summer-long schedule, the Atlantic City Fan Xpo at Showboat abruptly shut down, cancelling the remaining events.

Just three weeks into the 15-week schedule, Showboat pulled the plug on the Atlantic City Fan Xpo (ACFX).

The casino planned on hosting a different expo every weekend in a 150,000 square-foot exposition area. Without an operational casino, Showboat operators thought this could draw the coveted millennial demographic to the property.

ACFX blames closure on “issues beyond their control”

In a June 16 announcement on the Expo’s Facebook page, the group did not offer many specifics about why ACFX was abruptly closing its doors:

“Due to matters beyond our control we are postponing operations until further notice. We are providing refunds for advance ticket sales for any weekend for which we are not opening.”

A subsequent post on June 25 was just as cryptic:

“Folks, we love Atlantic City and we love the amazing Jersey Shore. As a result of issues beyond our control we are on hold. As soon as we can we will let you know what is going on…….We thank you for your support and your belief in the rise of Atlantic City.”

Showboat hosted three events before closing up shop

ACFX did manage to host three events before shutting its doors. The first weekend ran over Memorial Day weekend, and featured areas dedicated to esports, cosplay, and board games.

The site followed it up with a weekend dedicated to locals, then wrapped with another board game-themed weekend. Ticket prices ranged from $19 for one day to $299 for the entire summer series. The company will issue refunds for tickets for cancelled events.

The impetus behind the project was to attract the younger, millennial demographic of customers. This group is notoriously difficult for casinos to recruit. When the Showboat announced the project, the hotel’s owner, Bart Blatstein explained why he thought the expo idea would work.

“Gamers and esports is the largest sport in the world,” he said. “It crosses all lines — male, female, all languages and backgrounds.”

Esports was central to the concept. The House of Blues Theater served as the central hub for esports activity at ACFX. Apparently, after less than a month, the visitors drawn in by esports and other offerings was not enough to keep it going. The expo ran in the convention center, so another possibility is that Showboat executives determined there was more money to be made renting out the space.

Millennials remain elusive in Atlantic City

The quest for millennials is tough in Atlantic City. The failure of the expo is not the only experiment gone wrong, either. Just a few months after introducing skill-based slots from GameCo, Caesars yanked the machines from its New Jersey casinos, citing lack of return.

Other casinos, like Tropicana, are still giving skill-based games a go. Meanwhile, Caesars is trying to draw in new customers with tactics like hosting an esports competition.

Still, it seems the only real, proven driver of new, younger customers to these brick and mortar properties seems to remain New Jersey online gambling for the time being.

Image credit: John Arehart / Shutterstock.com

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Showboat Launching ‘Atlantic City Fan Expo’ This Summer, Featuring Esports And More

Showboat is banking on a totally new idea to attract visitors to the Atlantic City resort this summer, with esports a key part of the summer-long Expo.

 Showboat is banking on a totally new idea to attract visitors to the Atlantic City resort this summer.

The Atlantic City Fan Expo will launch on Memorial Day weekend at Showboat. But what exactly is the expo, and will people come to see it?

The Atlantic City Fan Expo, at glance

According to the recently live ACFX website, it seeks to provide a “geek vacation.” That might not sound like much of a selling point, but the resort has designs on attracting millennials in the doors. That makes a lot of sense, as the reopened Showboat doesn’t have a casino.

The Expo will span 150,000 square feet. What will be at the ACFX? From the website:

As an attendee, you will be able to enjoy the traditional comic and pop culture convention atmosphere with cosplay, unique cultural displays, fan-driven panels, and rare collectibles from artisans around the nation. And when you’ve had your fill of geek experience, you can enjoy a summer-time vacation on the world’s most famous Boardwalk and dip your toes into the Atlantic Ocean. It’s the ultimate dream getaway for geeks, gamers, fans, and enthusiasts from around the world!

The complete contents of the expo are still a work in progress. But also featured inside and outside of the facility:

  • Esports gaming facilities
  • sandlot beer garden with live music, movies and family entertainment
  • Pop culture exhibits
  • Board games
  • Educational seminars

The Expo will only be open on weekends, through Labor Day.

Esports will be a key part of ACFX

Esports appears to be a key to what will take place at the Expo. The House of Blues theater at the Showboat will be dedicated to esports competitions and tournaments.

More from the Press of AC, in talking with Showboat owner Bart Blatstein.

“Gamers and esports is the largest sport in the world,” he said. “It crosses all lines — male, female, all languages and backgrounds.”

 

Blatstein said he began researching the idea of a gamer-focused project months ago, traveling to South Korea and Japan to learn more about the industry.

The announcement comes on the heels of Caesars AC hosting a major esports tournament. AC appears to be attempting to follow in Las Vegas’ footsteps as a hub for esports activity.

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Showboat shows it’s serious

Showboat is one of several casino resorts that closed during contraction in AC in 2014. But it reopened under Blatstein as just a resort, with no gaming, in July of last year.

Since then, Blatstein has shown he has real designs on turning Showboat back into a player in AC. It’s been doing well in it first year of operation under new ownership. And Blatstein proved he wasn’t content with what he had, buying up more property around the Showboat, including the Garden Pier.

While it’s not clear what, if anything, is going to happen with TEN AC (the former Revel), its next-door neighbor continues to press forward. The Expo is just the latest example of that.