Hard Rock CEO Claims Atlantic City Wasn’t Welcoming to New Casino Investment

Hard Rock International has been operational in Atlantic City for about a year and a half, after opening the Hard Rock Atlantic Casino in June 2018. In that time, the casino has done well, but not to the standards that Hard Rock had placed on the venue in the gambling city. Officials seem to think that they were not well-received by the region, with CEO Jim Allen stating that the response by the region has been disappointing.

Reception Has Been a Shame

Jim Allen was interviewed by Global Gaming Business and in his statements, the CEO said that Atlantic City has not been a good host to the brand. Putting it bluntly, Allen stated that Hard Rock is disappointed with Atlantic City. He said it was a shame that the region did not rise to the occasion of the brand coming in and investing $500 million into their city.

Hard Rock International has been busy in Atlantic City. They acquired the former Trump Taj Mahal and converted it into a Hard Rock branded property. The company thought that the brand would gain a ton of attention in the gambling town but alas it was not to be.

The opening of the Hard Rock created 3,000 new jobs, another notch on the brand’s belt. According to Allen, the city has not shown gratitude for everything they have done. One thorn in the city’s side that might be way officials have not sung the praise of Hard Rock is the tax payment they had to make.

In early 2019, Hard Rock was the victor of a tax dispute where the city had to pay $4.8 million to the casino in total. For four years, the city will pay Hard Rock Atlantic City $1.2 million. The issue stemmed from casino tax appeals from 2017 and the Taj Mahal had fell through the cracks. This mistake led to the payments now being issued by the city to the brand.

Recovery Period

While Hard Rock International is not happy with their reception in Atlantic City, it could be that officials have been just too busy to pull out the red carpet. The region has been trying to recover for some time now regarding how the city was run in the past. Mismanagement led to economic issues and now the struggle remains as to who should be in charge.

Concerns still remain as well as to if those in charge can handle the finances of the region. For some time, the state was put in charge and were handing out payments to the city, instead of the city officials being in charge of their own funds.

It is interesting to point out that while the Hard Rock brand is recognizable, there are several established brands in the region. Players who frequent the area will have their favorites. And while they may travel to the Hard Rock to catch a peak, they are going to visit their regular casinos more frequently.

In general, it is the Golden Nugget, Borgata and Resorts that seem to be faring the best on a regular basis. When it comes to online gambling, the three are the ones to beat.

We shall see in the coming months if the Hard Rock is able to gain any more attention in the region and climb the ladder of success when it comes to revenue earnings. At least for now, the brand is bringing in solid revenues from visitors on a regular basis.


Logan is based in Los Angeles and is an avid poker player having played in tournaments across the globe. He covers both poker & regulatory affairs.