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Facelift at Atlantic City to boost competition

Caesars Entertainment has outlined a $400 million master plan to renovate three of its resorts in the city

By Buck Wargo – SiGMA US correspondent

As the US recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic and casinos across the country experiencing larger crowds and higher gaming revenues, Atlantic City resorts are undergoing a significant facelift as it faces stiff competition from neighbouring states.

Caesars Entertainment, as part of its promise to New Jersey gaming officials, when they approved a merger with Eldorado Resorts in 2020, outlined a $400 million master plan to renovate three of its resorts in the city.

This investment forms part of an ongoing effort to make Atlantic City and its famous Boardwalk along the Atlantic ocean more of a destination rivalling the likes of Las Vegas and New York.

Caesars, Harrah’s Resort and Tropicana Atlantic City, part of a total of nine casinos in the city, will see remodelled room towers, improvements to gaming floors, new dining concepts and other improvements to interior design and various additions over the next three years.

The first phase of $170 million for rooms at Caesars and Harrah’s will be opened this summer.

“This was prescribed as part of the merger last summer,” said Brendan Bussmann, a consultant with Global Market Advisors.

“It not only shows Caesars commitment to the market but the regulators’ belief of Atlantic City being a great destination on the East Coast. It needs a continued reinvestment as we’re seeing with Caesars and others like Borgata, which has renovated its rooms recently.”

The Ocean Casino Resort announced plans earlier this month to sell 50 per cent ownership of the resort along the Boardway to Ilitch Holdings that will provide capital for improvements.

The former Trump Taj Mahal was taken over by the Seminole Tribe of Florida and following renovation was reopened as the Hard Rock in 2018.

According to Bussmann, the best way Caesars can remain competitive is to have a fresh product.

“Atlantic City is still a good destination but it has big competition. If you look at where Atlantic City sits compared to a Wind Creek that is 80 minutes from midtown Manhattan or Parx facility outside of Philadelphia that’s 90 minutes from midtown Manhattan while you have 90 minutes to two hours to drive to Atlantic City. Granted, those other two facilities aren’t on the ocean but in some ways, they can be more convenient.”

Given casinos are coming to New York City in the future, Bussmann opined that it’s vital that Atlantic City is viewed as a destination that differentiates itself.

Last month, New Jersey casino and sport betting revenue more than doubled to $359.2 million. Casinos were shut down in the second half of March 2020 due to COVID-19.

When compared to March 2019, New Jersey casinos increased their revenue by 18 per cent.

The Borgota and Hard Rock were up 172 per cent and Ocean Casino was up 151 per cent. The three Caesars properties by comparison were up only up in a range of 73 to 95 per cent from 2020, according to the state Division of Gaming Enforcement.

 

About SiGMA Magazine:

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