he state Casino Control Commission unanimously approved Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City’s application for a license during a three-hour public hearing. Twenty-three executives were also granted key casino employee licenses by the commission, including Hard Rock International Chairman Jim Allen, Hard Rock International Chief Operating Officer Jon Lucas, Property President Matt Harkness and principle investors Joseph Jingoli and Jack Morris.
In remarks prior to the final vote, commission Chairman James Plousis noted Hard Rock’s financial stability, successful history of operating casinos elsewhere and commitment to the Atlantic City market as reasons for supporting the license application.
“I, for one, am placing a great deal of confidence in you, Mr. Allen, and your team,” Plousis said. “We all know Atlantic City needs to broaden its appeal and bring people here for a lot more than just gambling. It appears that you and Hard Rock will try to do just that.”
Allen said the initial entertainment rollout, announced during a three-city press conference April 18, which included 60 confirmed acts and a promise of 300 nights of shows in the first year, had “never been done before.”
Hard Rock budgeted $30 million for the first year of entertainment, Allen said. Carrie Underwood and Pitbull were announced as the opening weekend acts for June 29 and 30, respectively.
“The brand itself is about entertainment,” he said. “Within these amenities, we certainly offer hotel, dining and other experiences. But there is one universal language, and that’s music. We are the only brand that works to bring people together through music.”
Harkness told the commission nearly 50,000 applications had been received to fill about 4,000 jobs. Of the 3,200 people already offered positions at Hard Rock, Harkness said 850 were residents of Atlantic City.
“I can’t tell you how many people literally had tears in their eyes once we extended them job offers,” he said.
When the property opens, it will feature a 119,657-square-foot gaming floor with 2,144 new slot machines and 120 table games. A 402-seat Hard Rock Cafe adjoining the casino floor will contain 16 bar top slots.
The hotel will consist of 1,972 rooms, 1,472 of which are standard and 500 suites, all completely renovated.
There will be 11 food and beverage options, including a 553-seat buffet, a 328-seat seafood restaurant and a 172-seat Asian restaurant.
The former Mark Etess Theater will be renamed the Hard Rock LIVE Mark Etess Theater and seat about 5,500 guests.