In a press conference Wednesday, Hard Rock International executives announced that the new Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City will open June 28th. Among the highlights the first year are almost 300 nights of live entertainment, including the likes of Blake Shelton, Amy Schumer, Stone Temple Pilots, Counting Crows, Florida Georgia Line, Steely Dan, and Frankie Valli.
“We think it’s a great start,” Hard Rock International Chairman Jim Allen said. “It demonstrates our commitment that we are about entertainment and not just about casino. But, certainly, we look forward to continuing to book more acts and even larger acts. There’s some amazing acts on that list, but, certainly, I think the best is yet to come.”
While I referred to the Hard Rock Atlantic City as “new,” it is actually the former Trump Taj Mahal, situated on the Boardwalk between Virginia and Maryland Avenues. Hard Rock International purchased the shuttered property, finalizing the sale about a year ago. The company is investing $500 million to get it refurbished, rebranded, and ready to go this summer. And yes, the iconic giant guitar will be prominently featured out front, though it has not been erected yet (permits, which have been procured, were needed before it could be done).
The Hard Rock will be a welcome sight to Atlantic City, which saw five casinos close from 2014 to 2016. 2014, in particular, was a disaster for the city, as Atlantic Club Casino Hotel, Showboat Casino, the $2.4 billion Revel, and Trump Plaza, all shut their doors. The Trump Taj Mahal closed on October 10th, 2016.
Of course, with all those casino closing went thousands of jobs.
“They’re going to hire 3,000 people, which we need. We lost about 11,000 in 2014, so this means more jobs for Atlantic City,” New Jersey Assemblyman Vince Mazzeo told News 12 New Jersey.
“You’re talking about over 5,000 full-time jobs,” added Matt Doherty with the Casino Reinvestment Authority. “These are union jobs with pension, health insurance for pay. Then there’s probably another 2,000 seasonal jobs for the summer as well.”
The Hard Rock Atlantic City will have 2,000 hotel rooms, more than 20 restaurants and bars, and a 120,000 square foot casino floor with 2,100 slot machines and 120 table games. The Taj was once the hub for poker on the east coast and was prominently featured in the classic poker film Rounders. It was even home to the live finals of the long-forgotten Online Series of Poker, created by the original owner of this website and which I, personally, was involved in organizing. It remains to be seen if Hard Rock will make an effort to attract poker players.
Hard Rock does already have plans to offer online gambling, which is legal in New Jersey. In February, it entered into a five-year agreement with Gaming Innovation Group (GiG) to be Hard Rock’s online gambling provider.
This will be a big summer for Atlantic City. In addition to the Hard Rock, Ocean Resort Casino, formerly Revel, will also open. No date has been announced for the Ocean grand opening.