Hard Rock Considers AC Casino

The president of the Seminole Indians’ Hard Rock franchise says the company would consider buying Atlantic City’s Revel Casino if the price were right.

Photo: facebook.com/seminolehardrockhollywood

Revel, Atlantic City’s newest casino, is seeking a buyer or a partner for a joint venture.

Florida-based Hard Rock has been a long-rumored suitor for Revel and made preliminary inquiries earlier this year to New Jersey casino regulators about what license it would need if it pursued Revel.

Hard Rock president James Allen, speaking Tuesday at the East Coast Gaming Congress, confirmed the company has kicked the tires at Revel.

“We certainly looked at it,” he said. “We participated in the process. The question is not whether Revel will be operating. The question is what will you have to put into a property that’s negative” in terms of earnings.

While acknowledging the casino is little more than two years old, Allen said Revel “needs a lot of work. There are issues with the design.”

Revel is designed with the casino on an upper floor that has to be accessed by a long escalator.

Nonetheless, Allen said, “If the economics were right, then we would be interested.” He declined to say what he considered a fair price for the casino, which cost $2.4 billion to build and has already gone through bankruptcy once.

The company’s filings with the state indicate it planned to seek a statement of compliance, a preliminary step in determining who needs to seek and hold a casino license.

In a February ruling, the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement said the tribe does not need to qualify for a license but listed several Hard Rock executives who would need to, including Allen.

A Revel spokeswoman declined to comment on Tuesday.

Hard Rock previously dipped its toe into the waters of Atlantic City’s gambling market but quickly pulled it back. In November 2011 it was accepted into a pilot program New Jersey was operating to permit construction of smaller boutique-style casinos that contained fewer than the 500 hotel rooms required by current regulations.

A musical history museum with rock `n’ roll memorabilia was a key part of Hard Rock’s proposal. Its hotel would have started at 208 rooms and eventually expanded to 850. The first phase of the project would have cost about $465 million.

But less than a year later, and without putting a shovel into the ground, Hard Rock scrapped the idea due to market conditions at the time.