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Despite the virus, Atlantic City casinos reinvest millions

With COVID-19 restrictions limiting how many people can play, and revenue and profits plummeting, this may not seem like the best time for Atlantic City casinos to spend a lot on renovations.

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J.- With COVID-19 restrictions limiting how many people can play, and revenue and profits plummeting, this may not seem like the best time for Atlantic City casinos to spend a lot on renovations.

And they still are, looking to a post-pandemic future, when players will be looking for the news. They are investing hundreds of millions of dollars with these days in mind.

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The last to open the corporate checkbook is Hard Rock, which told The Associated Press on Monday that it will spend $ 20 million to renovate hotel suites, open a Starbucks store, buy new slot machines and table games. , add a new restaurant and update your beachfront amenities.

The renovations take place in a few weeks in which the Ocean Casino Resort announced that it is spending $ 15 million on improvements to the casino floor, as well as on outdoor amenities like swimming pools, cabanas and the beach, and Harrah’s unveiled three new restaurants, a new one renovated spa and lobby bar.

Harrah’s parent company, Caesars Entertainment, recently outlined details of the $ 400 million it promised New Jersey game regulators would win at its three Atlantic City casinos (Caesars, Harrah’s and Tropicana) during the change of ownership hearings last year .

And Bally’s Corp. is investing $ 90 million in the Atlantic City casino of the same name that it acquired from Caesars Entertainment last year.

Both investments will last for three years.

Hard Rock is opening its wallet less than three years after spending half a billion dollars to destroy the former Trump Taj Mahal casino and turn it into a Hard Rock casino resort.

And it is doing so in a market depressed by the restrictions of COVID-19 and the hesitation of some players and tourists to return to face-to-face casinos. Various health and safety measures in place since its reopening last July, including limiting the occupancy of the casino floor to 50%.

“We need to reinvigorate Atlantic City,” said Hard Rock President Joe Lupo. “With the decline in revenue, there are few visitors out there. It has become more competitive. These properties like Hard Rock, which are betting on the long term, are investing their dollars now. “

For Hard Rock, most of the $ 20 million will go to renovating 91 suites. But all hotel rooms in the complex will have new TVs and lighting as well.

Sound updates will also be made at the Hard Rock Live at Etess Arena and the casino’s Sound Waves concert halls. The space for meetings and conventions will be renovated, as well as the indoor pool.

The coronavirus outbreak caused profits to plummet by more than 80% last year at nine Atlantic City casinos, and things would have been worse had it not been for the continued growth of Internet gambling and a little help from sports betting. .

But the virus will not last forever, and when customers return en masse, casinos want them to return to their premises.

By Lupo’s accounts, there are three “new” casino companies in Atlantic City: his, which opened Hard Rock in June 2018; the future 50% partnership at Ocean Casino by the Detroit Ilitch family (Ocean opened on the same day as Hard Rock); and the new Caesars Entertainment, which kept its name but adopted the management of the old Eldorado Resorts in the merger last year.

“With this new investment, the need arises for our companies to ensure that their product and the experience they offer meet people’s needs, especially at a time when the city is in decline since we reopened in July,” he said. “We realized that we have an opportunity. The constant change gives our visitors something new to look forward to, and that has always been important in Atlantic City. “

It also takes into account the continued competition around it, from casinos in Pennsylvania, Delaware, New York and other northeastern states that were eating away at the Atlantic City market even before the pandemic.

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