Hard Rock Requests Delay in Starting Boutique Casino Project in Atlantic City
Hard Rock International has filed a petition with the New Jersey Casino Control Commission asking for a six-month delay on building a boutique casino on the Atlantic City Boardwalk, reported the Associated Press.
The Hard Rock franchise, purchased by the Seminole Tribe of Florida in December 2006, sought a permit in June to build one of two new small casinos as part of a pilot program created to revive the ailing Atlantic City market by attracting a younger customer base with more disposable income, reported CBS New York.
The company currently owes a $1 million down-payment. According to the original plan, the gaming franchise is also required to apply for a casino license by March 22, start work by July 15, and complete the first phase of the project by July 30, 2014.
But Hard Rock said it requires more time to obtain permits for a construction project on the shoreline from the state's Department of Environmental Protection.
The commission will consider whether to award a delay at Wednesday's meeting.
NBC40.net reported that some state gaming regulators fear the Hard Rock will need much more time to begin the project than requested.
But industry analysts, such as Roger Gros, publisher of Global Gaming Business Magazine, think state regulators are strapped for options and will have no choice but to concede. "They've got to grant it because there's nobody else out there," Gros told NBC40. "There was one other company that had actually put a bid in, and they never finalized their proposal from the start. So, really, Hard Rock is the only one who ever showed any interest in it, and so, who's gonna come in if the Hard Rock doesn't take it?"
Senator Jim Whelan, the ring leader behind bringing boutique casinos to Atlantic City, seems to agree. "The good news is they're not saying no, the bad news is, it's going to be delayed a little bit," Whelan said, "and hopefully at the end of the six months, they'll be prepared to move forward."
In June, Hard Rock International pitched its ambitious plans for the new boutique casino set to break ground this summer. "We are truly a brand that has withstood the test of time," said Hard Rock International CEO Jim Allen while unveiling project plans in November.
The boutique resort will start small scale and gradually build out to a fully realized gaming resort. Additional casino space and a second hotel tower will be added in construction phase two, reported The Press of Atlantic City.