Caesars Slashes Perks At Atlantic City Casinos, Online Gamblers Furious

Written By David Danzis on January 9, 2024
exterior at caesars atlantic city for a story on caesars entertainment slashing perks at laurel lounges at caesars, harrah's and tropicana

Caesars Entertainment surprised many of its high-rolling loyal gamblers last week when the company abruptly announced it would be cutting back hours and services at its VIP lounges.

The Laurel Lounges at three of the company’s Atlantic City casinos are now only open three days a week, Friday through Sunday, and will no longer serve hot food, according to an email sent to higher-level Caesars Rewards card holders.

What changes are coming to Caesars Atlantic City casinos?

Laurel Lounges are exclusive areas reserved for Diamond-level and above (Diamond Plus, Diamond Elite and Seven Stars) Caesars Rewards card members. Inside the lounges, players could enjoy complimentary meals and alcoholic drinks as a perk for reaching the higher card tier.

Other Atlantic City casinos have comparable players’ spaces, such as the Amphora Lounge (Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa), Avila Lounge (Ocean Casino Resort) and Legends Lounge (Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City).

Caesars Entertainment – which operates Caesars Atlantic City, Harrah’s Atlantic City and Tropicana Atlantic City – eliminated nearly all of its Laurel Lounges in Las Vegas and cut back hours and services at other casinos around the country. In the post-COVID era, Caesars identified players’ lounges and buffets as ways to reduce operational costs.

Sad-looking pics from Caesars AC properties flood social media

Some long-time guests of the three Atlantic City casinos are upset at both the timing of the changes and what they view as a deteriorating return on investment at Caesars’ properties.

Many Caesars Rewards members spend money at a feverish pace as they approach an upward reward card tier or during an end-of-earning-period attempt to maintain their current tier for the following year. The start-of-the-year changes at the Laurel Lounges came without advance notice, meaning players felt like they were victims of a bait-and-switch.

Over the Jan. 6 and Jan. 7 weekend, there were more than 50 negative posts — even after admins denied repetitions in some of the groups — on nearly a dozen Facebook pages dedicated to AC and casino gambling.

Pictures of half-empty pretzel and dry nut bowls flooded social media, accompanied by less-than-favorable commentary directed at Caesars Entertainment’s upper management.

What Caesars customers said regarding Caesars changes

Here’s just a sample of what people on Facebook, Reddit and X (formerly Twitter) had to say about the changes to Laurel Lounges in AC:

  • “I finally made diamond (sic) and this happened. I’m outta here!! I’ll miss the people but I spend too much not to even get a slice of pizza!”
  • “It’s (sic) was bad enough that they give no comps or tier points for my bubble craps play. Now this. Absolutely no reason to go there anymore.”
  • “They’re raking in the cash with online gambling. They couldn’t care less about giving out perks anymore.”
  • “It’s sad what (Caesars) has become. Getting to the point it’s not even worth going anymore.”
  • “It was for the LL that I maintained my status. Screwed again (angry face emoji).”
  • “Everything went downhill fast after the Eldorado (Resorts Inc.) acquisition of Caesars in 2020, during the Covid shutdown. We all returned to the worst version of Caesars in Las Vegas with no Diamond Lounges, no free monthly show tickets, no $20 Qua spa access, etc. It was just a matter of time before they turned their ire on AC.”

PlayNJ reached out to Caesars Entertainment on Monday morning but has yet to receive a response.

Caesars already has reputation among Atlantic City casino gamblers

While most US casino operators are cutting expenses where they can, Caesars and its chief rival, MGM Resorts International, are often the targets of public criticism for going a bit too far to “increase shareholder value.”

Parking fees, resort fees and never-ending service fees are seen as throwing salt in an open wound at casinos where poor-value games like 6:5 blackjack and triple-zero roulette are becoming more frequent and a bottle of water can cost as much as $10.

Caesars CEO Tom Reeg may never live down a response to a question in 2021 about eliminating buffets and Las Vegas Laurel Lounges when he said:

“You can’t have nothing. But you don’t need to lose money — certainly nearly as much money as this industry has lost — feeding people. God forbid they stop at McDonald’s on the way home.”

Reeg’s seemingly flippant comments coupled with the casinos’ recent actions do not sit well with customers who see gambling corporations, such as Caesars and MGM, reporting record-breaking revenue numbers month after month while simultaneously proclaiming that cost-cutting measures (at the guests’ expense) are necessary.

Big spenders

Caesars’ reputation is at odds with other aspects of the company’s approach in Atlantic City. Since the former Eldorado Resorts Inc. purchased Caesars Entertainment in 2020, the gambling giant has spent nearly $428 million at the three Atlantic City casinos.

Caesars AC, the company’s flagship property on the East Coast, has been the beneficiary of a significant portion of that capital reinvestment. In the last three years, Caesars AC has all new hotel rooms and suites, the addition of Gordon Ramsay Hell’s Kitchen and Nobu (both the restaurant and the hotel), a refurbished casino floor and a completely redone valet/hotel lobby. Caesars also partnered with Spiegelworld to bring The Hook and Superfrico to the Boardwalk last summer.

Photo by Wayne Parry / AP Photo
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David Danzis

David Danzis is the lead writer for PlayNJ. He is a New Jersey native and honors graduate of Rutgers University. As a newspaper reporter for the New Jersey Herald and Press of Atlantic City, David earned statewide awards for his coverage of politics, government, education, sports, and business. Today, he is PlayNJ’s Atlantic City “insider” and gaming industry expert on casinos, sports betting, and online gambling. David lives in Atlantic County, NJ with his wife and two children.

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