CEO's statements

Hard Rock pursuing New York casino project, still advances one in NJ 8 miles away

Jim Allen, Chair and CEO of Hard Rock International, in an interview with CNBC during G2E Las Vegas 2021.
Reading time 2:31 min
The Seminoles-owned company is looking to develop a venue in New York City and one in Northern New Jersey, at the Meadowlands Racetrack. Chairman & CEO Jim Allen has confirmed it will submit an expression of interest on the New York license by the Dec. 10 deadline..The company believes entering both markets could be a profitable plan, since they can support numerous casinos.

Hard Rock is considering the development of two new casinos 8 miles apart from each other. While one would be located in or near New York City, the second one is to be placed in northern New Jersey.

Interest in developing a New York venue was confirmed on Tuesday by Jim Allen, chairperson and CEO of the Seminole tribe-owned gaming and hospitality giant. Allen said that Hard Rock plans to submit an expression of interest to officials in the state by the December 10 deadline, reports the Associated Press.

The state of New York will award three casino licenses for the downstate region, including New York City, a highly-treasured opportunity for players in the gaming industry due to the region’s popularity as a destination and the wealth of its population.

However, while Hard Rock is keen on taking its brand to New York, it isn’t willing to abandon the development proposal of a casino resort at the Meadowlands Racetrack, in New Jersey. First unveiled in 2015, the gaming venue would be located just outside New York City - a plan that the company would be happy to make a reality.

“We're interested in both markets, and if God is good enough to allow us to operate in both, we would be happy to do so,” said Allen, speaking at the East Coast Gaming Congress in Atlantic City. The chairperson further explained Hard Rock’s interest in the New York project goes back to its initial announcement, seven years ago.

Should it build its New Jersey casino, Hard Rock first needs to secure permission from voters in the state. In 2016, residents rejected a plan that would have authorized casinos outside Atlantic City, where the company currently operates Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City since 2018. But Allen believes that both the New York and northern New Jersey markets can support many casinos.

“How many casinos do you have lined up right here?” he asked in Atlantic City, home to nine gambling venues. “One hundred percent, the market is large enough.”

Hard Rock isn’t alone in having expressed interest in a New York license. Last week, the NYS Gaming Commission issued a call for expressions of interest on the three remaining casino licenses, something that attracted interest from other major players, including Caesars Entertainment, Bally’s, Las Vegas Sand, and Wynn Resort.

Jeff Gural, owner of the Meadowlands Racetrack, and two upstate New York racetrack casinos, said he and Allen have not discussed yet whether they might partner on a New York project, or if such development would affect their partnership in New Jersey, further reports Daily Union.

While the possibility of Hard Rock owning two projects so close to one another has cast doubt on whether they would succeed, the company might not have much to worry about. The Meadowlands Racetrack has proved to be highly profitable in New Jersey’s nation-leading sports betting market: it accounts for half the sports wagering revenue in the state, a leading position not likely to fade away in the near future.

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