Hard Rock Hopes to Roll Into NYC, New Jersey with Two Casino Resorts

Posted on: October 28, 2021, 12:22h. 

Last updated on: October 28, 2021, 02:24h.

Hard Rock International is one of the world’s largest operators of integrated casino resorts. The company hopes to soon expand its portfolio to the most populated metro in the United States.

Hard Rock casino New York New Jersey Atlantic City
A taxi drives past the Hard Rock Cafe in Times Square, above. Hard Rock International is already invested in New York City with its Times Square café. But the company hopes to bring a large casino resort to Manhattan in the future. (Image: Hard Rock Café Times Square)

Hard Rock, the hospitality and gaming conglomerate owned by the Seminole Tribe of Florida, has long sought market entry in New York City and northern New Jersey. Speaking this week on the sidelines of the East Coast Gaming Congress at Harrah’s Atlantic City, Hard Rock International Chairman Jim Allen said those aspirations remain.

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,” Allen told the Associated Press.

Hard Rock is already in New Jersey by way of its Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City. The company in 2018 spent more than $500 million transforming the former Trump Taj into its rock ‘n’ roll-themed Boardwalk resort.

New York State of Mind

Hard Rock in June of 2015 partnered with Meadowlands Racetrack owner Jeff Gural to develop a large-scale casino resort, should such a project ever gain legal approval. The horse track and FanDuel sportsbook facility is located adjacent to MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., home of the NFL New York Giants and Jets.

Gural and Hard Rock successfully campaigned in 2016 to ask New Jersey voters if they wished to expand land-based casino gambling outside of Atlantic City. But the ballot referendum was easily rejected, nearly 78 percent of voters saying casinos should stay in Atlantic City.

Failed ballot referendums in New Jersey cannot go before voters for at least two years. Gural said after the futile effort that patience is key to bringing his Meadowlands a casino.

“I’d rather wait six years until New York is either open or getting ready to open, at which point I think voters will say, ‘Wait a second, what are these Atlantic City people arguing?'”

New York’s 2013 gaming expansion called for four commercial casinos upstate, plus three gaming licenses earmarked for NYC. But the state-mandated a 10-year moratorium on the downstate developments in order to give the upstate casinos time to establish their customer bases. 2023 is quickly approaching, and New York recently issued a request for information to casino ops that are interested in the forthcoming market.

Allen explained that the company will respond to New York’s request before its December 10 deadline.

Market Supports Multiple Properties

As for pursuing New York City while still engaged in its Meadowlands pact, Allen said Hard Rock would be capable of owning and operating two large casinos in the Big Apple and across the Hudson River in North Jersey.

The gaming exec said the large population in the metro area — approximately 20 million people, the largest in the US  — would allow several resorts to be profitable.

How many casinos do you have lined up here?” Allen asked while being interviewed by the AP in Atlantic City. The town currently has nine casinos operating.

“One hundred percent, the market is large enough,” Allen said of building in NYC and North Jersey.

As for now, there are no active campaigns to ask New Jerseyans again if they wish to allow casinos outside of Atlantic City.