Just recently, details of 2019 revenues in New Jersey were revealed, showing that the state did better than the year previous by way of gaming earnings. Details have yet to be released regarding December totals, but the reports should be positive. While most everyone is cheering for the upswing, Hard Rock International CEO Jim Allen feels that Atlantic City is a worse shape than it was a few years ago.
The Hard Rock International company entered the Atlantic City market officially when the Hard Rock Atlantic City opened in the summer of 2018. The casino is located within the old Trump Taj Mahal. According to Allen, he is worried about the state of the gambling town and is concerned about city leadership.
In speaking with the Associated Press, Allen said Atlantic City is in worse shape today than it was when the building was bought by Hard Rock in 2017. According to Allen, the streetlights have been out for months and other issues remain unaddressed.
The CEO pointed out that when you are in a resort environment, safety and security are important. If the city does not fix simple issues like the street lights then maybe a change is needed.
Hard Rock International invested $50 million to purchase the former Trump Taj Mahal from Carl Icahn and then put in another $562 million in renovations. Allen seems to be questioning the decision by his company as the venue has not produced as expected. The goal revenues for 2019 were missed by about 10%. Yet, earning $350 million put the company in the 3rd place position, just behind the Borgata and the Golden Nugget casinos.
Atlantic City Government Questions
For some time now, a debate has raged on as to who should be in charge of Atlantic City. While there are leaders in place, like Mayor Marty Small, the city is still seeing their finances controlled by the state. Former Governor Chris Christie was successful in seeing the state take over the spending of Atlantic City after a long time frame of mismanagement.
Mayor Small came in to his position after the former mayor, Frank Gilliam, was arrested for misappropriating funds, to the tune of $87,000. He took the money from a youth basketball program. This is just one example as to why many believe that AC should not be given back full control of their finances.
Mayor Small would like to see the status quo remain and a large city council involved in the decision making process. However, others want to the city council to be removed and a smaller group brought in to help the city. The change is being pushed by several leaders and casino operators.
For now, we wait and see how the December totals turn out and if any changes are made to the government structure. It will most likely be some time before any changes occur, if at all, when it comes to the city council.