Hard Rock awaits New York City casino RFP with three sites in mind, bets on synergies with ongoing NJ project

Hard Rock International Chairman Jim Allen said Thursday has three potential sites on which it could build a $2 billion casino in New York City, though he did not identify them. The announcements were made at Hard Rock Live at Etess Arena for Hard Rock Atlantic City’s Town Hall Meeting for employees, where they learned from Allen and President Joe Lupo that over 2,400 of their eligible union and non-union team members will receive bonuses totaling $10 million for the third consecutive year following a record-breaking year with the largest increase in coin-in, table games drop, and gross gaming revenue over 2019. 

After the event, Allen told the Associated Press that the company has lined up at least three potential sites in New York for a casino, and he added that the 446-room Hard Rock Hotel New York set to open in April would not be one of them.

“You have to have a footprint of real estate large enough to take advantage of the size of the market,” he said. “We’re extremely proud of our hotel on 48th Street, but its footprint is just not large enough for gaming. As far as other locations, really we’re waiting on the governor and the committee that’s going to be sending out the request for proposals to see what language is in the bill as to geographic locations that would be acceptable to the state.”

The Seminole Gaming CEO said he expects the actual selection process to begin in late summer or early fall, assuming the necessary legislation to authorize as many as three casinos is enacted by then. Allen said a New York casino will generate about $2 billion in gambling revenue. In December, other eight casino operators, including major players in the gaming industry, have responded to a request for information about getting one of three licenses to open a New York City casino in the next two years. 

Hard Rock holds a partial ownership stake in the Meadowlands racetrack in East Rutherford, New Jersey, just outside New York City, and has proposed building a casino there. Allen said that plan still remains viable. If Hard Rock is chosen to build a New York City casino just a few miles away, that would not necessarily mean it would scrap plans to build one at the Meadowlands as well, he told AP.

However, a New Jersey’s Constitutional amendment would be needed to allow casino gambling outside Atlantic City. “I’m not saying we would drop a Meadowlands option,” he said. “I think we have to look at all the different circumstances. There’s certainly the ability to have more than one product in a geographic area, as we’ve done many times in our industry.” HRI Chairman recognized the risks of a Hard Rock project in New York or northern New Jersey affecting Atlantic City casino, but he also said the symbiosis of such a relationship could actually help the Atlantic City property by funneling gamblers who patronize a New York-area facility to Atlantic City for special entertainment events.

During Thursday’s “All Is One” themed Team Member Town Hall Meeting at Hard Rock Atlantic City, eight randomly selected team members won cash prizes, two won all-inclusive stays at a Hard Rock resort destination and two grand prize winners each received a new car.

Hard Rock Atlantic City Partners Joe Jingoli Jr. and Michael Jingoli stood alongside of Allen addressing the property’s team members and union representatives from UNITE HERE Local 54, Operating Engineers Local 68, Northeast Carpenters and Painters District Council 711 during two Town Hall events.

“We look at things differently here at Hard Rock and that’s been the root of our success. Our mottos of Love All-Serve All, Take Time To Be Kind, Save The Planet, and All Is One have been around for decades and we continue to live by them today,” Allen said, according to a press release. “We want to focus on building companionship at work and creating a sense of family among our Hard Rock team members. This is what separates us and keeps us as industry leaders.”

Additional Town Hall highlights included a snapshot of Hard Rock Atlantic City’s community efforts, market positioning and an overall brand update highlighting the domestic and global hotel, casino and restaurant pipeline.

“I couldn’t be prouder that Hard Rock Atlantic City was the top performer in the market, the top employer in New Jersey, but most importantly that we are creating a culture based off the core values and motto ‘Love All, Serve All’,” said Joe Lupo, President of Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City.