Brick & Mortar Casino Industry

The Atlantic City Revival Begins As Hard Rock, Ocean Open For Business

Ocean Casino AC

E Street Band drummer Max Weinberg took the stage at the grand opening of Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City shortly after noon on Thursday, to the strains of Bruce Springsteen’s 1980s hit “Glory Days.” But while the room was undoubtedly bursting with a hope of recapturing those glory days that had seemed to pass AC by, there was another Springsteen song that felt even more fitting.

In the aptly titled “Atlantic City,” The Boss sings, “Everything dies, baby, that’s a fact. But maybe everything that dies, someday comes back.”

On September 2, 2014, Revel Casino Hotel died. On October 10, 2016, Trump Taj Mahal died. On June 28, 2018, they both came back.

New beginnings on the Boardwalk

In a ceremony starting at 11 a.m., the Taj officially reopened as the Hard Rock. At 1 p.m., Revel was reborn as Ocean Resort Casino. It was a historic day at the Jersey shore.

Or maybe the previous day was the historic day. It’s hard to say for sure. That’s what happens when both casinos rip up their schedules and decide to let the public in a day early.

Here are some news, notes, and highlights from the 18 hours of so of extended opening activities:

  • Ocean announced its early opening on social media by asking potential patrons to follow the bouncing ball:

  • Hard Rock wins the award for the more interminable opening ceremony. It started on time, around 11, but the much-hyped smashing of dozens of acoustic guitars didn’t happen until 12:35. (And the crowd to watch it actually began gathering around 9.)  Here’s the guitar smash, in case you missed it:

    • It was a long, drawn-out affair. How long and drawn out was it?

  • Meanwhile, Ocean, which started its opening on time at 1 p.m. and was finished by about 1:25, attracted its own strong early-arriving crowd:

  • Ocean probably had the edge in the battle of celebrity endorsements. While Hard Rock had Weinberg and Creed star Michael B. Jordan, their neighbors a half-mile up the Boardwalk had legit A-lister Mark Wahlberg … who led an “E-A-G-L-E-S-Eagles” chant … which makes sense based on the proximity to Philadelphia and the fact that he starred as Eagle Vince Papale in Invincible … but which can’t have gone over well with his friends and family from Boston.
  • On a day with 83% humidity in AC, Hard Rock scored a win by holding its ceremony inside, rather than on the sticky Boardwalk, as Ocean did.
  • Business was bustling before the doors even opened, according to Hard Rock International Chairman Jim Allen:

  • Allen also said, in response to the news that sports betting is currently available at Ocean but not Hard Rock, “Don’t worry, we will be in the sports betting business.”
  • Allen revealed numerous facts and figures: The casino has 2,200 slots, 120 table games, and more than 300 nights of entertainment booked. But the most important numbers are the more than 50,000 applications for about 3,900 new jobs. After five of Atlantic City’s 12 casinos closed in a two-year stretch, they’ve leapt overnight from seven to nine. Roughly 11,000 jobs were lost due to casino closures, but an estimated 6,000 are coming back thanks to Ocean and Hard Rock.

It’s not quite a return to the glory days. But it’s a vital step in that direction.

Image credit: Granary Way Media LLC