Reports that Hurricane Sandy had swept away the city's Boardwalk were greatly exaggerated. The only damage occurred in a section north of the casinos.
Revel, the city's newest casino resort, was granted Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in March, under an arrangement that allows $250 million in debtor-in-possession financing. Among changes at the property being planned in the wake of the measure is to allow patrons to smoke in the casino, which hitherto has been prohibited. The 1,800-room resort has 160,000 square feet of indoor meeting space and 90,000 square feet of outdoor function space. In addition to its casino, Revel offers the Bask spa with 312 treatment rooms, plus 14 restaurants and a private beach.
The Atlantic City Alliance, in collaboration with the Atlantic City Visitors Authority, has launched a $1 million incentive program to attract groups and meetings in 2013, with funding for the campaign being provided by the destination's 12 casino-resort properties. The incentives could be used in any number of ways to defray expenses that "can get in the way of a meeting planner," according to Liz Cartmell, president of the ACA. Transportation from the airport, receptions, rent, electric bills, and food and beverage expenses are some of the costs that might be subsidized. The incentive program is part of Atlantic City's "Do Anything, Do Everything, Do AC" campaign. To qualify, new group or meeting business booked must take place in 2013 and generate a minimum of 1,000 room nights. Full details are available at meetinac.com.
Last summer, Hard Rock International announced a decision to shelve its plans to build a new 850-room casino hotel on the Boardwalk, citing a confluence of negative market conditions.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie signed off on legislation in February that will allow Internet gambling in Atlantic City. The law will allow any game played in the city's 12 casinos to be played online as well, in New Jersey only at first and later in other places willing to partner with the state (licenses will be limited to Atlantic City casinos). Officials expect the move to be a boon for casino revenues, which fell to a reported $3.05 billion in 2012, down 8 percent from 2011 and the sixth consecutive year of decline.
Rational Group U.S. Holdings, parent of online gaming firm PokerStars, has applied to the state's casino regulators to buy the 804-room Atlantic Club Casino Hotel for an undisclosed amount. If approved, the deal would mark the first purchase of an Atlantic City casino by an Internet gambling company. At press time, the deal was still pending.
Another troubled venue, the Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino, also is getting a new owner. The Downey, Calif.-based Meruelo Group expects to close on the acquisition of the Boardwalk property, which has 904 guest rooms and 15 meeting rooms, this month. The new owners intend to give the property a $100 million overhaul.
New Jersey's Casino Reinvestment Development Authority Board approved a plan by Harrah's Resort Atlantic City to build a conference center with 100,000 square feet of meeting space. The proposed $134 million, two-story facility, adjacent to the 2,590-room gaming resort in the city's Marina District, will open next year. Plans call for about 50,000 square feet of meeting space on each floor. At present, Harrah's has 10 meeting rooms totaling 25,000 square feet.
The New Jersey Casino Control Commission has approved a deal between Mohegan Gaming Advisors and Atlantic City's 942-room Resorts Casino Hotel. Under the agreement, MGA will take over all day-to-day operations of the property for a five-year period, in addition to acquiring a 10 percent ownership interest in the casino-hotel complex. The measure marks the first time a Native American entity has become involved in the ownership and operation of an Atlantic City casino. MGA is a subsidiary of the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority, which owns the Mohegan Sun casino resort complex in Uncasville, Conn., and Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs in Plains, Pa.
The Resorts Casino Hotel will debut a Margaritaville complex this summer, based on the brand created by famed entertainer Jimmy Buffet. Plans call for a new casino, a restaurant, the Five O'Clock Somewhere Bar, a clutch of retail stores, and the LandShark Bar and Grill, along with a coffee shop. In addition, the resort's boardwalk façade will be re-themed with the signature Margaritaville brand.
The Steel Pier, one of the Boardwalk's historic landmarks, will become a year-round attraction after undergoing a $100 million, three-phase makeover. Among the enhancements will be the addition of a food court, new rides (including a 250-foot-high Ferris wheel) and the 2,000-seat Marine Ballroom. The project will be completed in 2015.
Pinnacle Entertainment has announced that it finally has a buyer for its 19-acre parcel of prime land in Atlantic City, according to press reports. The undisclosed buyer is reported to be paying $30.5 million for the property, where Pinnacle once planned to build a $1.5 million casino resort.
Properties include the 2,590-room Harrah's Resort Atlantic City; 2,133-room Tropicana Atlantic City Casino & Resort; 2,032-room Trump Taj Mahal Casino Hotel; 2,000-room Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa; 1,800-room Revel; 1,756-room Bally's Atlantic City; 1,331-room Showboat Casino Hotel; 1,140-room Caesars Atlantic City Hotel Casino; 942-room Resorts Casino Hotel; 800-room Water Club, a Signature Hotel by Borgata; 728-room Golden Nugget Atlantic City, and 502-room Sheraton Atlantic City Convention Center Hotel.
Just outside of the city, in Galloway, is the 297-room Seaview Resort & Spa.
Find and compare hotels and send RFPs at mcvenues.com.
Atlantic City Convention Center; exhibit space, approximately 486,600 square feet; number of meeting rooms, 45; (888) 222-3683; accenter.com
Atlantic City International Airport, about 10 miles northwest of the Boardwalk. Transfer cost by airport shuttle, $13; by taxi, $25-$35
Luxury tax, 9%; sales tax, 4%; occupancy fee, 1%; tourism promotion fee, $2 per room for casino hotels, $1 per room for others; total tax on hotel rooms, 14%, plus tourism promotion fee
Atlantic City continues to draw some of the hottest names in music and entertainment. Among the many establishments that host visiting artists is the House of Blues at the Showboat Casino. The venue's Music Hall accommodates up to 600 seated guests and 2,000 for private events. For more intimate groups, the Foundation Room hosts seated events for 60 guests and receptions for up to 200. Set to appear in July is the pioneering theatrical rock 'n' roller Alice Cooper. (609) 343-4000; houseofblues.com/specialevents/hobatlanticcity
The Atlantic City area offers superb golf facilities for players of all skill levels. Among those that welcome groups are the Atlantic City Country Club (609-236-4400), Blue Heron Pines (609-965-1800), Harbor Pines Golf Club (609-927-0006), The Links at Brigantine Beach (609-266-1388), Mays Landing Golf Club (609-641-4411), McCullough's Emerald Links (609-926-3900), Sand Barrens Golf Club (609-465-3555), Seaview Pines Course and Bay Course (609-652-1800), Shore Gate Golf Club (609-624-8337) and Twisted Dune Golf Club (609-653-8019).
Atlantic City Convention & Visitors Authority; (888) 228-4748; atlanticcitynj.com