During a hastily crafted press conference last week, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie happily relayed the news that MGM and Caesars are considering co-developing a new project in Atlantic City.
The 45-minute presser was short on specifics, but there should be more details in the coming weeks. Meanwhile, the revelation that two of the biggest casino corporations in the world, and direct AC competitors, were engaged in advanced talks on a tandem project in Atlantic City had the speculation and hot-take machines working overtime.
“When [you] hear them come up here and talk about new properties to develop and new things to do in Atlantic City both individually and then MGM and Caesars jointly, it’s a huge change to what you heard when I first got into office,” Christie said.
Executives from MGM and Caesars flanked Christie at the press conference.
“We are going to be working with our friends at Caesars to find out how we can further move Atlantic City along,” MGM Resorts Chairman and CEO James Murren said. “It’s not going to be easy but we are up for the challenge.”
Where would the new casino property go?
One of the first questions asked after the press conference was where would this new property go?
According to the Press of Atlantic City, if the project becomes a reality, the most likely landing spot would be an undeveloped parcel of land in-between Borgata (an MGM property) and Harrah’s (a Caesars property). The parcel of land in question is 15 acres. MGM currently owns the property.
However, the project could also end up on the Boardwalk. Demolishing Trump Plaza creates space. MGM and Caesars could look to buy Revel/TEN, where owner Glenn Straub is fighting with regulators over licensing.
Frankly, at this point, we just don’t know.
The theory behind the joint Atlantic City venture
Considering Atlantic City’s recent issues with casino saturation, plopping another new casino in-between two of the top-performing properties in the city doesn’t seem like a very good idea.
It seems even less rational when you consider Hard Rock purchased Trump Taj Mahal. That property should reopen next summer. Then there is the ongoing saga of reopening Revel/TEN.
In the end, it depends on what type of property the two casino giants intend to create. Will it be little more than another gaming joint? Or will it be heavy on amenities, dining, retail, and entertainment options, perhaps with some gaming?
The former seems like folly. However, the latter seems like a really good way to push the Marina District over the Boardwalk.
The Press of AC noted the mention of non-gaming, “entertainment” options during the Christie press conference. Parsing Christie’s words, it’s interesting to note that the word casino is often overshadowed by investment and development:
“These folks here in Atlantic City have come here to say they’re here to make further investments in Atlantic City… you want a headline that’s a headline.”
In my mind, the real headline is this: MGM and Caesars are in advanced talks on a new Atlantic City project. The particulars like where, on what scale, and whether or not it will feature a casino, are anyone’s guess.