ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) – Atlantic City’s newest casinos threw open their doors to gamblers Wednesday — a day earlier than scheduled.
The previously shuttered Hard Rock and the Ocean Resort Casino were supposed to open Thursday, but both received permission Wednesday afternoon from the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement to begin full operations, and both immediately started letting gamblers inside.
David Rebuck, director of the gaming enforcement division, said Hard Rock was cleared for full operations as of 3 p.m., and Ocean Resort as of 5:45 p.m. Both wasted little time letting gamblers inside — even as they pleaded for people to come to their scheduled grand openings on Thursday.
At 11 a.m. Thursday, Hard Rock hosted a mass guitar smash on the Boardwalk.
“Today is the bridge to the revitalization of Atlantic City,” Jim Allen, CEO of Hard Rock International, said shortly before the ceremony. “We believe this project will create a new day in the evolution of Atlantic City. We have spent $500 million renovating this building. We promised you we wouldn’t just paint it and put up a guitar.”
The Hard Rock is the former Trump Taj Mahal, and Ocean Resort is the former Revel.
The Seminole tribe of Florida is Hardrock’s partner to finance $400 million of the $500 million used to renovate the former Taj Mahal.
They were two of the five Atlantic City casinos that had shut down since 2014. Together, they will restore about 6,000 of the 11,000 jobs that were lost in the shutdowns.
Hard Rock brought celebrities like Michael B. Jordan on stage to bless the casino in their own way – smashing guitars
After a brutal two-year stretch in which five of its 12 casinos closed, Atlantic City now has nine. The reopenings 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.
Hiring 3,900 employees, and transforming 4 million square feet of property in just 8 months, the developers say they have created what they believe is one of the highest quality entertainment resorts in the world.
(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)