Tough Call: Hard Rock Atlantic City Gets Hit With A Regulatory Fine

Written By Bart Shirley on November 5, 2018 - Last Updated on November 4, 2018

Hard Rock Atlantic City has received a fine from the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement. The agency fined the casino on Friday, Nov. 2, after the property violated policies regarding proper notification in hiring.

Specifically, the casino failed to notify the DGE of its hiring of a marketing executive.

Mann Lien became the property’s vice president of Asian marketing without the DGE being made aware, a violation of New Jersey’s Casino Control Act.

The fine wasn’t much, but it’s the principle of the matter

The DGE responded by assessing the casino with a $5,000 fine for the violation. A letter to the casino from DGE Director David Rebuck indicated that the company had already paid the fine and returned to good standing with the commission.

Still, Lien began work at the Atlantic City casino on July 9. However, the DGE only became aware of his presence on Oct. 22, and only through the agency’s own inquiry at the casino itself.

Lien’s position is sufficiently high in rank that he qualifies as a key employee under New Jersey law. Key employees are defined under New Jersey gaming regulations as employees that “are involved in the operation of a casino in a supervisory capacity or empowered to make discretionary decisions on casino operations.”

Furthermore, a key employee such as Lien must submit to a review of their licensure every five years. They must also maintain a residence in the state of New Jersey or secure a waiver for the residency requirement.

These sorts of requirements and fines may seem unnecessarily persnickety on the part of the DGE. But, in an industry with an established historical relationship with organized crime, the oversight commissions must maintain a strong command of each licensee’s operations.

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Hard Rock AC dealing with a few changes

For a large company like Hard Rock, a $5,000 fine is almost laughably small. However, the casino itself is going through a few changes in management.

Last month, Hard Rock replaced both its property president and senior vice president of marketing. Both personnel shifts occurred without warning and came as a bit of a surprise to observers.

When Hard Rock opened its doors in June, CEO Jim Allen expressed excitement about the leadership of then-President Matt Harkness. Unfortunately, Harkness lasted less than three months at the former Trump Taj Mahal.

Instead, Hard Rock AC installed longtime casino executive Joseph Lupo at the helm in October. Lupo had once been the leader of AC’s top-performing casino, Borgata. Alongside Lupo came Jeffrey Hook, who replaced Todd Moyer in the property’s top marketing position.

The reasons behind so much turmoil and shakeup in the new property’s brass remain unclear. But, losing $5,000 is genuinely the smallest of concerns.

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Bart Shirley

Bart Shirley is a writer and poker player from Houston, Texas. When he's not teaching high school math and business, Bart writes about the NJ online casino industry and US online poker. He has a master's degree in business administration from Texas Christian University and a degree in English from Texas A&M.

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