(AP) – ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. – With COVID-19 regulations restricting the number of people gambling and sales plummeting, it is not the best time for Atlantic City’s casinos to invest heavily in renovations.
They’re still doing it, looking ahead to a post-pandemic future when gamblers will be looking for the next big thing. They’re investing hundreds of millions of dollars in preparation for those days.
Hard Rock announced on Monday that it will spend $20 million to renovate hotel suites, open a Starbucks, purchase new slot machines and table games. It will also add a new restaurant, and upgrade its beachfront amenities, according to The Associated Press.
During last year’s change-of-ownership hearings, Caesars Entertainment, Harrah’s parent company, detailed the $400 million it promised New Jersey gambling regulators it would invest at its three Atlantic City casinos (Caesars, Harrah’s, and Tropicana).
A covid-19 pandemic causes Hardrock to invest billions
Hard Rock is opening its wallet less than three years after gutting the former Trump Taj Mahal casino and converting it into a Hard Rock casino resort for a half-billion dollars.
And it’s doing so with various COVID-19 restrictions and a reluctance among some gamblers to return to land-based casinos. Since they reopened last July, they’ve implemented several health and safety measures. They also limited the casino floor occupancy to 50%.
Hard Rock President Joe Lupo stated, “We need to reinvigorate Atlantic City. With revenue shrinking, there are only so many visitors to go around. It’s gotten a lot more competitive.”
Last year’s coronavirus outbreak caused profits at Atlantic City’s nine casinos to plummet by more than 80%. Things would have been even worse if it hadn’t been for the continued growth of internet gambling and a small boost from sports betting.
However, the virus will not last forever, and when customers return in droves, casinos want them to visit their establishments.
“With this new investment comes a need for our companies to ensure that their product and experience meet the needs of people,” he said, “especially at a time when the city has been declining since we reopened in July. We’ve realized we’ve got a chance. Our visitors have something new to look forward to because of the constant change. This has always been important in Atlantic City.”