Harrah’s Atlantic City Announces Another Major Renovation, Customer Reviews Say Much Needed

Posted on: December 17, 2019, 01:00h. 

Last updated on: December 16, 2019, 04:41h.

Harrah’s Atlantic City will spend another $24 million to renovate additional hotel rooms, something that, according to customer reviews, is long overdue.

Harrah's Atlantic City renovation
The standard room at Harrah’s Atlantic City’s Marina Tower is dated and need of a major upgrade, which all 416 rooms will soon receive. (Image: Harrah’s Atlantic City)

On Monday, parent company Caesars Entertainment announced it’s renovating 416 rooms in the 16-story Marina Tower. The tower opened in 1997, and was the casino resort’s second hotel expansion.

Once complete, the Marina Tower will be renamed the Laguna Tower. It’s expected to open next year. At $24 million, the budget for each of the 416 Marina hotel rooms is roughly $57,700. Each occupancy measures 450 square feet.

In 1980, Harrah’s became the fifth casino in Atlantic City to open. However, it was the first to be located off the Boardwalk in the Marina District. Trump Castle – now the Golden Nugget – followed five years later, and Borgata in 2003.

Caesars is in the process of being acquired by Eldorado Resorts for $17.3 billion. The purchase includes $8.5 billion in cash and stock, and the assumption of Caesars’ $8.8 billion in debt.

The massive transaction is expected to be completed in the first half of 2020. The combined companies will result in the largest casino operator in the United States.

Bankruptcy Hindrance

The New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) says Caesars’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2015 prevented the company from making investments in its Atlantic City properties. Since emerging from bankruptcy protection in 2017, the casino giant has been trying to play catch up.

The $24 million allocation to renovate the Marina Tower is part of a $300 million overall investment strategy Caesars announced post-bankruptcy for its three Atlantic City casinos. Along with Harrah’s, the company owns and operates Bally’s and its namesake Caesars.

In the fall of 2018, Harrah’s Atlantic City’s first makeover announcement came by way of a $56 million spend to upgrade all 507 rooms in the resort’s Harbor Tower – the original hotel structure.

Harrah’s Atlantic City has been faring well in terms of land-based gross gaming revenue (GGR), perhaps the result of being neighbor to the Borgata, the richest casino in town. January through November, Harrah’s GGR on its physical floor totals $286.3 million. While that’s a 7.2 percent drop compared to the same 11 months in 2018, Harrah’s still ranks No. 3 of the nine casino properties.

Borgata is No. 1 at $654.5 million. The MGM property is followed by Hard Rock ($298.1 million).

Few Hurrahs for Harrah’s

Reviews of Harrah’s Atlantic City in recent years haven’t been glowing.

The casino’s own homepage features reviews from TripAdvisor. Of the five currently displayed, the titles read: “Not great,” “Disgrace,” “Not so great,” “Nice hotel but the family pool was closed,” and an untitled review that claimed their hotel room couch was marked with a semen stain.

On Expedia, the average of more than 14,500 reviews is 3.8/5, which qualifies the resort as “good.” But that’s still below its Marina District competition. The Borgata’s rating is 4.3/5, and Golden Nugget comes in at 4.0.