ATLANTIC CITY — Three Atlantic City casinos are working together with local businesses and attractions to jointly promote their section of the Boardwalk in a resort where it has often been every business for itself.
The Hard Rock, Ocean and Resorts casinos are launching a new marketing and entertainment effort to brand the north end of the historic boardwalk as “North Beach.”
Together with attractions like the Steel Pier, the non-gambling Showboat Hotel, and businesses on a rejuvenating Tennessee Avenue, they are holding block parties at the beginning and end of summer and music-themed events each Monday. The collective effort will cost “tens of thousands of dollars,” said Joe Lupo, president of Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City.
“We were all working together for the first time to highlight what is a great experience here in North Beach,” said Eric Matejevich, acting CEO of the Ocean Casino Resort. “A guest can have three totally different casino experiences with maybe 40 different restaurants within a 10-minute walk.”
Resorts Casino Hotel President Mark Giannantonio said the casinos realized they might be able to accomplish more working together than against each other.
“It makes no sense whatsoever not to work together and promote this end of town,” he said. “No doubt about it, it’s a new way of looking at things. It will raise all boats.”
Cooperation is not unheard of in Atlantic City; in past years, some casinos have jointly sponsored indoor and outdoor concerts. And they used to jointly fund a marketing program for the resort as a whole, but that ended several years ago.
Five of Atlantic City’s 12 casinos shut down between 2014 and 2016; the remaining seven casinos adjusted to the smaller market with less competition and stabilized their finances.
Then Hard Rock, which was the former Trump Taj Mahal, and Ocean Casino Resort, which was the former Revel, rejoined the market. The result has been a smaller slice of the pie for nearly everyone. Figures released last month by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement show the nine casinos saw their gross operating profit decline by nearly 30% in the first quarter of this year compared to the same period last year, when there were only seven.
Overall casino revenue has increased since last year because there are now two more casinos winning money from gamblers, even as profits shrank due to the greater competition.
“It’s great to see the sports betting revenue and online revenue figures increase, but a lot of that is going to third parties,” Lupo said. “It’s about how do we increase revenue and visitation for the brick and mortar properties here.”
Another long-held complaint many Atlantic City businesses have voiced is that the casinos freeze them out. This initiative includes businesses along Tennessee Avenue, a downtrodden side street that is trying to remake itself as an entertainment and dining destination with new investments. The Tennessee Avenue Beer Hall, the Iron Room, and MADE Atlantic City Chocolate Bar are all part of the group promoting the area.
And attractions like the Absecon Lighthouse and the historic Steel Pier, where the Diving Horse thrilled customers decades ago and top acts like Frank Sinatra belted out tunes, are participating in the effort as well.