Atlantic City Casino Execs Express Concerns About New York, N.J.


Posted on: April 19, 2024, 02:13h. 

Last updated on: April 19, 2024, 02:13h.

Hard Rock International and Caesars Entertainment are among the 10 casino companies readying pitches for one of the three imminent gaming concessions available in downstate New York.

Atlantic City casino New York Hard Rock
Hard Rock International Chairman Jim Allen speaks at the 2024 East Coast Gaming Congress at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Atlantic City. Allen and several other Atlantic City casino executives say the town’s casinos must upgrade their offerings ahead of casinos coming to New York City. (Image: East Coast Gaming Congress)

Seven of the nine casinos in Atlantic City won less money in person last year than they did before the COVID-19 pandemic. Hard Rock owns its namesake resort in Atlantic City, while Caesars manages its namesake property and two other New Jersey casinos, Harrah’s and Tropicana.

Atlantic City stakeholders are naturally concerned with how three Las Vegas-style casino resorts in New York City with slot machines, live dealer table games, and sports betting will impact the casino beach town. It almost certainly won’t be to Atlantic City’s betterment.

Atlantic City on High Alert

Numerous casino giants in addition to Hard Rock and Caesars are expected to bid on the New York concessions. The laundry list of interested developers ready to pony up a $500 million license fee and billions more into an integrated resort in the Big Apple include MGM Resorts, Genting, Las Vegas Sands, Wynn Resorts, Mohegan, Bally’s, the Chickasaw Nation, and Greenwood Gaming (Parx).

Jim Allen, chairman of Hard Rock International, says once the three New York casinos open, Atlantic City’s gaming market could be reduced by more than a quarter in terms of annual gaming revenue.

“We have to be prepared for that,” Allen said this week at the East Coast Gaming Congress at his Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Atlantic City.

Allen says the reduction in play will most impact the city’s brick-and-mortar bottom feeders — Bally’s, Golden Nugget, and Resorts. While Hard Rock will manage the tighter market, Allen is concerned that one or more of those casinos could close, a development that would wash thousands of jobs from Atlantic City.

Caesars CEO Tom Reeg echoed Allen’s worries on Thursday.

I share Jim’s concerns about where the Atlantic City market is headed as we head into New York,” Reeg said, adding that Caesars is pursuing New York “with fervor.”

Bally’s Chairman Soo Kim said iGaming — something that doesn’t appear likely to come to New York anytime soon — will allow his Boardwalk property to remain in business regardless of whether in-person play further declines.

“There’s casinos everywhere,” Kim said of the current landscape and gaming options in Philadelphia, Delaware, Upstate New York, and two New York racinos — MGM’s Empire City and Genting’s Resorts World.

Upstate New Jersey

Jeff Gural, who runs the Meadowlands Racetrack and the track’s highly profitable FanDuel retail and online sportsbook, says New Jersey should expand casino gambling north to Bergen County. Gural remains partnered with Hard Rock for an integrated resort at the Meadowlands should a legal change come to permit casinos outside of Atlantic City.

Gural believes a resort at the Meadowlands would keep some gaming money in the Garden State that might otherwise flow across the Hudson River into New York City. New Jersey voters in 2016 rejected a statewide ballot referendum that would have allowed casinos outside of Atlantic City. Gural has stayed on the North Jersey casino course but has learned that patience is key.

I’m just waiting for New York to open,” Gural told the Associated Press this week about igniting another casino referendum in New Jersey. “People will say, ‘Why am I driving over the George Washington Bridge and paying an $18 toll and sitting in traffic to go gamble?”

An upstate New Jersey casino would presumably only further hurt Atlantic City. Mark Giannantonio, president of Resorts Casino Hotel and the Casino Association of New Jersey, says Atlantic City resorts must continue to upgrade their offering to make the beachside destination more attractive over the next two years before New York casinos open.

“There’s a lot of work to do,” Giannantonio summarized.  

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