Hard Rock and Ocean casinos celebrated their shared third anniversary in true Atlantic City fashion.
There were fireworks, a parade, live concerts, a pool party, and even a flash mob.
Looking beyond the public jubilation and flare, Atlantic City’s two newest casinos were quietly toasting their individual successes.
Since opening on June 27, 2018, Hard Rock and Ocean have solidified their positions as market leaders, trailing only Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in reported land-based gambling revenue.
Together, they are responsible for creating thousands of jobs and reenergizing the north end of the Boardwalk. They have also remained committed to Atlantic City by making significant contributions to local causes and charities.
In the bigger scheme of things, the dual anniversary celebrations represent a return to normalcy for Atlantic City casinos.
But, it is also worth noting that Hard Rock and Ocean casinos are enjoying mutual prosperity in locations marred by past failures.
Hard Rock and Ocean casinos say ‘Good Riddance’ to their former selves
Hard Rock and Ocean reopened two of the five Boardwalk casinos that closed between 2014 and 2016.
The Seminole Tribe of Florida and Hard Rock International infused more than $500 million into transforming the former Trump Taj Mahal from a gaudy, outdated relic into a high-energy party casino. The investment group bought the $1.2 billion property for $50 million in 2017.
Meanwhile, Ocean took on the challenge of resurrecting the biggest flop in the history of commercial gaming. The former Revel Casino Hotel came with a $2.4 billion price tag when it opened in 2012. By the time it closed less than two years later, real estate developer Glenn Straub was licking his chops to buy the beachfront casino hotel for $90 million.
The Boardwalk to success
Neither Hard Rock and Ocean achieved their current success easily.
They did not simply swing open their doors, turn on the slot machines, and shuffle some cards.
Both casinos changed leadership within the first year because of underwhelming returns. The Wall Street financiers of Ocean took over the asset in 2019 and brought in an executive team with decades of Atlantic City experience. In the fall of 2018, Hard Rock tapped a former Borgata executive to move the property forward.
Following a slew of capital investments, strategic business decisions, and a fortuitous uptick in post-pandemic business, the two new kids on the Boardwalk block are doing quite well.
Gambling results for Hard Rock and Ocean casinos
Hard Rock and Ocean now rank second and third, respectively, among Atlantic City’s nine casinos in gambling revenue from table games and slots
In 2020, Hard Rock reported $224.8 million in casino win, while Ocean posted $183.5 million. In 2021, Hard Rock has already won $151 million and Ocean is sitting at $106 million. Borgata has won $208.9 million through May.
Welcome back to Atlantic City
Ocean Casino Resort CEO Terry Glebocki recently told PlayNJ that the property’s turnaround can be directly tied to two factors: establishing an identity with gamblers and listening to what guests wanted.
“We have been very pleased with how Ocean is performing,” she said. “If you look back at the past 18 months, none of this is an accident. We worked hard to get where we are.”
Glebocki, who also serves as president of the Casino Association of New Jersey, is optimistic about the future of her property, as well as for the entire city.
“I think it’s going to great summer here in Atlantic City,” Glebocki said. “We look forward to seeing everyone.”
‘Love all, Serve all’ is a core motto for Hard Rock
At a Monday morning press conference, June 28 was officially declared “Hard Rock Day” in the City of Atlantic City. Although not the actual opening date, it is recognized as such since guitars were smashed and ribbons were cut.
Hard Rock, as it often does, turned the press conference attention from itself and put it on three local charities. The casino donated $10,000 to each non-profit.
Joe Lupo, president of Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City, praised employees and team members for the property’s successes.
“While the (AC casino) industry, like many, had enormous challenges over the last year, we are encouraged by our market-leading growth here in Atlantic City,” Lupo said.