The Clock Is Ticking, And Hard Rock, Ocean Resort Still Need NJ Casino Licenses

The two newly revamped Atlantic City casinos planning to reopen this summer have yet to procure casino operator licenses from the state.

However, state regulators told the Press of Atlantic City newspaper this week they’re doing all they can to help Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City and Ocean Resort Casino get through the process quickly.

In fact, David Rebuck, director of the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement, said regulators have been working with representatives from both properties over the past couple of months to make sure they get properly licensed in time:

“The Division is working closely with both operators as they go through the regulatory process in preparation for the expected casino openings this year. This includes actively working on licensing matters as well as ensuring operational systems such as floor layouts, gaming equipment, security, surveillance and staffing meet our regulatory standards.”

What’s going on at Hard Rock Atlantic City

In April 2017, Hard Rock International bought the recently closed NJ casino $1.2 billion Trump Taj Mahal for $50 million.

The group immediately announced plans for a $375 million renovation and re-branding. The cost has since ballooned to $500 million.

The plan is to open Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City in the summer of 2018 with a completely redesigned hotel featuring pieces from one of the world’s greatest collections of music memorabilia and a casino with 2,400 slots and 130 table games. The property will also include first-class food and beverage concepts. Plus, two separate arenas with more than 7,000 seats designed to host live music, sporting events, conferences, and shows.

Ocean Resort Casino’s big plans

Ocean Resort Casino is the new name for the $2.4 billion Revel Casino Hotel, which has sat closed since September 2014.

Florida developer Glenn Straub bought the property out of bankruptcy for $82 million in 2015. He initially made plans to reopen it under the name TEN. However, after years of battling with state regulators over licensing issues, Straub sold the property. A development group named AC Ocean Walk LLC bought it for $200 million in January 2018.

AC Ocean Walk LLC immediately announced the property will be re-branded as the Ocean Resort Casino. It also plans to open in the summer of 2018. Plans include reopening a 1,399-room hotel. Plus, a 138,000-square-foot casino with 100 table games, 2,200 slot machines, and a sportsbook.

The property will also include 165,000 square feet in meeting and convention space, and a 5,700-seat concert hall.

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Expediting the NJ casino licensing process

Spectrum Gaming’s vice president of legal and regulatory services Steven Ingis told the Press of Atlantic City regulators will examine all aspects of the operators’ backgrounds through its licensing investigation. This includes financial stability and education.

He also said regulators will be trying to expedite the process to help the properties open in time.

Once the division completes a report, it will forward it to the state’s Casino Control Commission. The commission makes the final ruling on licensing applications.

Commission spokesperson Daniel Heneghan told the Press of Atlantic City it is confident the process will go quickly:

“We are confident that the division can complete its investigations and submit its reports to us in a timely manner. Once it does, the commission is prepared to hold hearings and make our decisions as expeditiously as possible.”

About the Author

Martin Derbyshire

In his over 10 years covering the US online poker, legal NJ online gambling, and land-based casino industries, Martin Derbyshire has worn the hats of award-winning journalist and video and film producer. He has logged countless miles reporting on the world of high stakes gambling.