The city officials in Atlantic City have taken a lot of heat in the last few years but some recent criticism hit home with a homegrown local boy casino CEO Jim Allen laying into the city. Allen has jarred many of the local politicians suggest the area has gone backwards under the current political leadership.
Allen is the CEO of the Hard Rock Casino in Atlantic City and he knows the Atlantic City gaming market well, not only because he is in an executive position but because he is from the area.
Allen is from Northfield New Jersey, close to Atlantic City; and worked his way up the ranks beginning in 1979 washng dishes at Bally’s Park Place. That was just the second year that there were casinos in Atlantic City, so Allen has seen the market right from the beginning.
Allen was employed by The Trump Organization for a majority of the 1980’s and the organization was a big-time player on the Atlantic City Boardwalk. Allen has a home in Atlantic County and has stated that the city has always had a special place in his heart.
In 2012-2014 when Revel Casino was going through hard times and shortly after it closed Allen was looked at as the person who could save the casino property. Allen has been often been on many panels at the East Coast Gaming Congress, which is held every year. His lack of involvement in the Atlantic City market was viewed by a majority as a type of referendum on the future of the city that is dear to him. This is similar to Allen looking into constructing an Atlantic City casino of his own years before the Revel operated with a short time period of success.
If Allen, an Atlantic Casino son, was not in the market in the city could that city have hope in the future?
Allen’s return to Atlantic City was a great one when he brought Hard Rock and opened that casino property in the one that was formerly the closed Trump Taj Mahal. In mid-2018 the Hard Rock Casino Atlantic City opened, and they have quickly gained a foothold in the market and have a solid revenue stream.
Recently Allen held a press conference where announced that there would be $2 million in bonuses spread throughout all of the full-tile workers at the Hard Rock Atlantic City. That is big news considering the Hard Rock is the first property to do such a thing since 2006 when the Atlantic City casino industry saw a downturn. It was as this time when neighboring Pennsylvania began to open land-based casinos near the border of New Jersey.
The positive vibe of the press conference turned when Allen stated to reporters, “Frankly, the town’s in worse shape today than it was when we bought [Trump Taj Mahal, in 2017].” He showed an example of the city’s problems using the example of the street-lights that are broken in the neighborhood, where the Hard Rock is located.
Allen went onto say, “When you’re in a resort environment where safety and security is so important, if the city can’t get something fixed as simple as the street lighting, then maybe a change is needed. The city is going in the wrong direction.”
Changes In Atlantic City Needed
Allen went as far to say that he is beginning to ponder if he should endorse change to the government in Atlantic City. This would take place in a referendum that will take place on March 31 dealing with the issue of a city manager taking the place of an Atlantic City mayor and if the number of members of the city council would be five rather than nine, which is the current number.
In the 40+ years that Atlantic City has had legal casinos many mayors have left office, some going to prison for wrongdoings in the industry which is the biggest cash cow for the city.
Allen’s recent statements are a far cry from ones made in 2017 when his company bought the Trump casino property. Back then he said to the Associated Press that, “I think the toughest times in Atlantic City are over, including in terms of bad publicity.”
After 40 years Allen, who has been with Hard Rock 10 years, harked back to his time as a chef and at the press conference sarcastically stating about the gravy he recently saw at a buffet at his property was so think that, “we could plug a hole in a boat with it. And the cannolis weren’t that great, either.”