Two casinos reopen in Atlantic City


Associated Press

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J.

A group guitar smashing and a more sedate ribbon cutting ushered in a renewed era of gambling in Atlantic City.

Patrons streamed into two newly reopened casinos Thursday as the previously struggling gambling resort reclaimed its glitz and glamor, along with 6,000 of the 11,000 jobs it lost during a brutal stretch of casino shutdowns.

The Hard Rock, which was the former Trump Taj Mahal, held a mass guitar smashing ceremony inside its concert arena that holds nearly 8,000 fans. Just as that wrapped up, the Ocean Resort Casino, the former Revel, held a ribbon cutting a few hundred yards north on the boardwalk.

“We believe in Atlantic City,” said Jim Allen, CEO of Hard Rock International. “We truly believe that Atlantic City’s best days are in front of it.”

The two shuttered casinos reopened ahead of schedule Wednesday afternoon after being cleared to do so by New Jersey gambling regulators. Allen said the company had spent $500 million renovating the former Taj Mahal property.

“We promised you we wouldn’t just paint it and put up a guitar,” he said.

After a brutal two-year stretch in which five of its 12 casinos closed, Atlantic City now has nine. The openings have generated cautious optimism for the seaside gambling resort that once was the only place in America outside Nevada with casinos, but which has struggled mightily as gambling spreads in states all around it.

Julie Herron, of nearby, Galloway Township, N.J., was awe struck when she walked inside the Hard Rock Thursday.

“It’s beautiful, just fantastic,” she said. “It’s really uplifting. The music is awesome, just the rhythm. Sometimes all you need is rhythm.”

A few hundred yards north at the Ocean Resort, Alesia Shropshire celebrated her 51st birthday with a big win at the slots.

“I played $10 for 15 minutes and won $260,” she said. “We will definitely be back next week.”

Her husband, Nate, said the redesign of the casino floor was immediately evident.

“They did an amazing job making it feel welcoming,” he said.

Inside the casino, the line to sign up for players’ cards stretched from the casino floor out into a lobby, but no one was complaining. Similar long lines for players’ cards were evident at Hard Rock, too.

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