ATLANTIC CITY — Hard Rock Hotel & Casino celebrated its one-year anniversary by staying true to the hospitality company’s motto of “Love all, serve all.”
The casino hotel donated $200,000 to five local organizations during a news conference Friday afternoon in the lobby. The Atlantic City Rescue Mission, Atlantic City Police Foundation, Avanzar, Turning Point Day Center and Covenant House each received $40,000.
The organizations were initially presented oversized novelty checks shaped like guitars for $20,000 apiece.
But Hard Rock International Chairman and CEO Jim Allen said he and the property’s owners — Joseph Jingoli, Michael Jingoli and Jack Morris — were going to double the contribution.
“I think it truly demonstrates that not just Hard Rock, but us, as individuals, truly care and want to give back to the community,” Allen said.
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Allen, the Jingolis and Morris are all from New Jersey. With major financial backing from the Seminole Tribe of Florida, the businessmen spent more than $500 million transforming the former Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort into Hard Rock.
“Hopefully, we can fulfill all of what you think this property and what Atlantic City should be about,” Morris said.
Since officially opening June 27, 2018, Hard Rock has generated more than $320 million in gaming revenue, said Joe Lupo, president of the Atlantic City property. Hard Rock ranks fourth in the market in overall casino revenue and second in table game revenue.
Additionally, the casino has welcomed 3.6 million visitors, accommodated 1.2 million hotel guests and nearly 500,000 people have attended concerts there, Lupo said.
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“We’ve had a very successful first year,” Lupo said, touting the property’s emergence as a significant addition to the Atlantic City market. “We could not be more proud to be here today and more proud of the efforts over the last year and a half.”
Hard Rock Hotel & Casino employs almost 3,900 people, 25% of which are Atlantic City residents, Lupo said.
“As successful as we have been from a gaming revenue standpoint, what’s even more important is creating a new brand, a new energy in Atlantic City,” he said.
Mayor Frank Gilliam Jr. presented the property with a proclamation on behalf of the city declaring June 28 to be “Hard Rock Day” in Atlantic City.
Hard Rock continued the celebration Friday afternoon with a parade on the Boardwalk, featuring local bands, dance groups, cheerleaders, floats and classic cars.
Karen Barry and Ray Thorn, both of Mullica Township, came out to celebrate one of their favorite casinos.
“We love Hard Rock,” Barry said.
It wasn’t their only celebration as of late.
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“We were here for Ocean (Casino) Resort for the anniversary, too, and got to see Rick Springfield and Tommy Tutone,” Thorn said.
Denise and Sheperio Hawkins, visiting from Queens, New York, heard about the parade on the news and took the tram down to Ocean, where the parade started.
“So far we’re enjoying it. It’s beautiful,” Denise Hawkins said as a float featuring steel drum music passed by. “Unexpected and we love it.”
Hard Rock and Ocean opened on the same day last summer, bringing the total number of casino properties in Atlantic City to nine. Ocean reopened the former Revel Casino Hotel, which closed in 2014 after two years.
The two new properties helped total gaming revenue in the Atlantic City market increase for 12 consecutive months. With the addition of the two properties, as well as legalized sports betting, the market increased total gaming revenue by 7.5% in 2018 and more than 21% through the first five months of 2019.
Staff Writer Colt Shaw contributed to this report.