Hard Rock Atlantic City: The Next Big Casino Or A Money Pit?

Written By Steve Ruddock on June 12, 2017

[toc]As it moves ahead with its plans for a summer 2018 launch, Hard Rock International plans to completely transform the former Trump Taj Mahal Casino. The casino company plans to remove every last vestige of the New Jersey casino’s former motif. In turn, it hopefully removes any association with the property’s convoluted history.

Hard Rock CEO Jim Allen didn’t mince words when he said “There will not be one — and underscore the word ‘one’ — piece of design, architecture, minaret or anything left over from the Taj Mahal,” at an April press conference. “We are removing it all.”

The price to accomplish the Hard Rock’s renovations to the Taj Mahal is steadily rising as a result.

Casino renovation costs up to $500 million

Hard Rock purchased the aged Taj Mahal Casino for $50 million. However, the sale price was just a fraction of the cost it would take to fix the four-million square-foot property. First it was around $300 million, then $400 million. Most recently, the price is reportedly up to $500 million.

“When we first bought it, we thought we would spend $350 million, then it became $375 million, then it became $400 million,” Allen said at May’s East Coast Gaming Congress. “We are now committed to putting a minimum of $500 million into that building.”

The goal is to transform this:

NJ casino Trump Taj Mahal

Into this:

Hard Rock hopes to offer the latest and greatest

The architecture is not the only thing Hard Rock will overhaul.

Hard Rock also plans on doing a lot of work under the hood too. The hope is to turn Hard Rock Atlantic City into a destination for the 30 million people that live a car drive away from the property. According to Allen, part of Hard Rock’s plan is to grab market share from neighboring states by leveraging Atlantic City’s extremely low casino tax rate.

A “wish list” submitted to regulators and obtained by the Associated Press gives us a glimpse at the future Hard Rock Atlantic City property. The hope is to attract visitors from New York City, Philadelphia, and as far away as Baltimore and Washington DC.

According to the AP, Hard Rock wants to take full advantage of all the approved games in New Jersey. Those games include on-site daily fantasy sports, skill-based games, and “new slot products not currently available in New Jersey.”

Hard Rock’s Atlantic City plans also include poolside and restaurant gambling. The AP reported hidden VIP gambling rooms as well. Hard Rock’s plans also state the following:

“We would like the ability to designate space off of the main casino floor for games at a (food and beverage) venue, pool or other area. We would like the ability to create private (VIP) gaming spaces that are not visible to the general public. We would like the ability to have these spaces on the casino floor or in the hotel.”

The report given to the AP under New Jersey’ Open Public Record Act featured a number of redacted specifics. Nonetheless, a picture of the property is beginning to come into focus.

Photo by littleny / Shutterstock.com

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Steve Ruddock

Steve covers nearly every angle of online poker in his job as a full-time freelance poker writer. His primary focus is the developing legal and legislative picture for regulated US online poker and gambling.

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