Hard Rock has asked New Jersey gaming regulators to investigate its suitability for casino licensing with an eye toward acquiring the Revel Casino Hotel.
The company, fully known as Seminole Hard Rock Entertainment, is operated by the Seminole Indian Tribe based in Florida. As owners of the Hard Rock International brand, the tribe’s business interests are worldwide. Hard Rock’s holdings include eight casinos, 18 hotels and 140 restaurants spread out over 57 countries.
The company recently submitted a statement of compliance to the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE), requesting that it be scrutinized and approved before detailed negotiations for a possible casino purchase reach an advanced stage. Kerry Langan, a DGE spokesperson, told the Press of Atlantic City that an order regarding the tribe’s suitability has been entered.
While the statement does not name the Revel in particular, rumors have long been circulating that the Seminole Hard Rock has its eye on the casino. The Revel emerged from bankruptcy proceedings last year after operating only one year and the current owners are reportedly open to accepting offers.
The order entered by the DGE last month waives the Seminole Tribe from license qualification procedures, but does require a number of Hard Rock executives to undergo greater investigation before obtaining the DGE’s rubber-stamped approval. With the company firmly established worldwide, one could certainly speculate that the nearly dozen company representatives requiring further qualification would likely meet DGE standards.
The Hard Rock is not a stranger to New Jersey and already has a piece of the Meadowlands Racetrack. Observers are quick to point out that should gambling be approved in the state outside of Atlantic City, the Meadowlands is frequently mentioned as the destination of choice.
The Seminole Tribe previously laid out blueprints for the construction of a small casino within Atlantic City just a couple years ago. However, the fact that revenue generated by the state’s casinos has been declining for a number of years may have been the reason why that plan landed in the muck.
Now that online gambling has been launched in the Garden State, Hard Rock has apparently renewed its interest in being part of that scheme via casino ownership. Though company officials have not stated so publicly, the Revel Casino Hotel is the tribe’s likely target.
Competition for acquiring the Revel may come from Caesars Entertainment. However, Caesars already operates four casinos in Atlantic City and Senator Jim Whelan went on record as saying that one company should not have that much control over the casino market. Hard Rock appears to be the better suitor at this point, provided that its executives can successfully pass the vetting process.