Caesars Entertainment CEO Thomas Reeg was one of the many industry leaders to speak at last week’s East Coast Gaming Congress & NextGen Gaming Forum.
Reeg took part in one of the two Industry Leaders Roundtable sessions, with each of the gaming executives offering a short presentation tied into the specific companies they represent. Joining Reeg on the stage were:
- Kevin Jones, Resorts World Casino and Gentling Americas
- Jette Nygaard-Anderson, Entain
- Ray Pineault, Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment
- Jay Snowden, Penn Entertainment
With the event taking place at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, it seemed fitting Atlantic City casino news would be the focus of Reeg’s remarks. More specifically, he shared updates regarding what’s new at Caesars AC and Harrah’s Resort. Add in Tropicana AC, and Caesars Entertainment holds a significant stake in the future of the Atlantic City market.
Here is recap of Reeg’s comments from last week’s ECGC.
Caesars Atlantic City has ‘dramatically changed’
Before getting into what Reeg had to say about the flagship property located at Boardwalk Central, a quick recap is needed.
Back in 2020, when Eldorado Resorts completed its merger with Caesars Entertainment, Caesars AC, Harrah’s (and temporarily Bally’s Atlantic City) joined Tropicana AC under the same umbrella. Reeg previously served as CEO of Eldorado.
Prior to being handed the keys, the company committed to reinvesting in all three AC properties. In 2021, Caesars Entertainment unveiled its $400 million AC master plan. And it’s hard not noticing the changes.
This includes Hell’s Kitchen opening last week. Reeg teased a grand opening event with celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay “in a few weeks.”
Nobu is planning for an October opening with the Nobu hotel to follow next year. Add in renovations to the Centurion and Ocean towers, and Reeg used the phrase “dramatically changed” when talking about Caesars AC.
The Nobu Hotel is still to come.
“In addition to all of the changes we made to the casino floor, down to replacing some of the scariest elevators that I’ve ever been on, this property is a brand new property and I encourage you to get out and see it,” Reeg said.
Reeg talks Harrah’s and Atlantic City casino market
Over in the Marina District, Reeg highlighted the “significant room remodel” taking place at Harrah’s Resort.
“Every room in Harrah’s has been touched since 2019,” Reeg said.
Of course it’s hard to miss the nearly 2o new restaurants and bars popping up at all three AC casino hotels. Bobby’s Burgers opening in the former Waterfront Buffet space is among them.
Ideally, Caesars Entertainment would’ve liked to have unveiled more of these new offerings during the prime summer season. However, that didn’t happen.
“Unfortunately, we missed the bulk of the summer tourist season thanks to supply chain issues, but we’re really getting to the final stages of this and very excited about where this is going to lead us in the future in this market,” Reeg said. “We’re about a third of this market, and as everybody knows, this is a market where all of its leaders have seen competitive products open within the last 15 years. So the bar has been raised in terms of what it takes to compete here, and we’re extremely pleased that our physical properties within Caesars can now meet that challenge.”
Caesars CEO: ‘I could not be more excited about where we are as an industry’
So if we go back in time a little more than two years ago, the entire land-based gaming industry faced one of its toughest challenges ever – being shutdown for months due to the global pandemic. Atlantic City casinos alone closed for 100-plus days. And after reopening, it took months before properties were operating at full capacity again.
Fast-forward to today, and Reeg is seeing a strong land-based gaming industry.
“I could not be more excited about where we are as an industry. If you had told me three years ago the world would shut down for several months and the ramifications of that would still be being felt two years down the road, and we would come out of this, the resilience of the sector, we would come out of this more profitable with better balance sheets, generating more free cash flow, and building a digital business across the industry that’s ultimately going to attract investment interests from entities outside of traditional gaming, I would’ve told you that that was impossibility, but that’s where we sit today.” Reeg said.
Why Caesars Entertainment boss sees ‘much, much better days ahead’
It’s no secret the high inflation rates are impacting life as we know it. Plus fuel prices might have people cut back on making those Atlantic City trips.
And Reeg mentioned with inflation as high as it’s been for the last 12 months, everybody’s afraid of what’s around the corner. Even with the unknowns, Reeg is maintaining a positive outlook about where this industry is going. This is coming from an executive who has connected to the gambling sector since 1994.
Evaluating the industry based on balance sheets, free cash flow, the consumer and support from the states, Reeg sees better days still to come.
“… I think the next five years are going to be the greatest investment performance that this sector has ever seen before. So we are extremely excited for what’s coming and not withstanding what we’ve seen over the last, let’s call it nine months, we see much, much better days ahead from a value creation standpoint,” Reeg said.