On a yearly basis, Casino Player Magazine publishes a list of the best-operating casinos. In most cases, rankings are divided on a regional basis, with the most heated competition taking place in Nevada and New Jersey. Usually, Atlantic City has Borgata Hotel Casino as its best venue, but things have changed in 2019. Instead of the MGM Resorts Int. owned brand, Hard Rock managed to place first despite being open for just one year.
In a shocking turn of events, Borgata took home the third-place award, as Ocean Casino Resort finished second. Nobody predicted such a strong coming-out performance by two newcomer venues.
Dominating Almost Every Section
Hard Rock Atlantic City was seen as an ambitious project upon its grand opening, but it has so far exceeded all projections and expectations. As the undisputed king of the Casino Player Magazine list, the popular entertainment brand managed to reign supreme in several categories, including best suites, players’ club, spa, slots, video poker and many other niches.
The second-place award went to Hard Rock, for hotel rooms in general, as well as their high limit room. Best hotel, slot tournament selection and craps tables in the venue solidified the brand as the third. After a mere 15 months of existence, Hard Rock Atlantic City has undergone rapid growth in terms of both service quality and popularity.
How It All Began
Before Hard Rock Cafe Inc. decided to open yet another extravagant venue in a highly competitive environment, we knew the casino as the Trump Taj Mahal. While immensely successful in the 1990s, it had to be sold to developer Carl Icahn because the previous owner filed for bankruptcy.
Nothing changed in terms of finances, as Icahn controversially tried to cut the employees’ benefits, which lead to him being ousted from his position. Despite being shut down in late 2016, Hard Rock International made the decision to purchase the property and expand its already colossal business empire.
The grand opening coincided with the arrival of Ocean Casino Resort, causing industry experts to worry about the competition resulting in saturation of the market. A once failed venture, this Atlantic City venue proved that it could achieve amazing things if the management is fit for the challenge.
The Brightest Stars Are in New Jersey
Despite not taking home the award for overall quality, neither Borgata Casino Resort nor Ocean Casino are pushovers. The Borgata may have seen a slip in comparison to previous ists, but it was proclaimed the best in areas such as best hotels, poker tournaments and table games. In addition to this, they also won in the live poker category. Their spa and hotel lobby placed second.
What held them back were many third-place awards, including pool, hotel rooms, casino, bingo, a non-smoking area with several other categories included.
Ocean Casino was perhaps the biggest surprise, even bigger than Hard Rock’s victory, due to them being a novelty on the Atlantic City gaming scene. They were the absolute winners in the hotel lobby and room categories. As for “silver medals”, they felt short of victory for the best VIP service, hotel, pool, non-smoking area, and sportsbook.
A Continued Streak of Success
Hard Rock immediately made a mark on the gambling landscape in New Jersey. A few days before Super Bowl LII, they were the 8th gambling operator in the state to start offering sports betting services. In a special introductory offer, they made over 500 props available, which boosted overall casino revenue in a matter of several weeks.
They earned this right by winning a $4.8 million-worth deal against New Jersey authorities, which is yet another victory in their expansion in the last few years. In total, Hard Rock has a roster of properties in 74 countries, consisting of 185 cafes, 25 hotels and 12 casinos. On a global level, they are considered to be the most successful tribal-owned gaming brand.
Atlantic City is becoming increasingly competitive, which surprisingly hasn’t led to oversaturation. The only result is even more revenue from tourism, taxes and licenses for brands that wish to open venues within the city limits. Experts predict that the 2020s will be the biggest decade in New Jersey gambling history.
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