Rebranded Atlantic City casinos ready for another go

Two shuttered Atlantic City casinos are set to reopen with new names and under new ownership. Will their return bring new hope for the city's future?

Ocean Resort Casino ambassador April Hoch showed soft-opening guests to the hotel casino's 99 table games, eight poker tables, and nearly 2,000 slots on Wednesday in preparation for the resort's grand opening a day later.

"I really love this property and I think it's going to be the best place in Atlantic City," she said.

Hoch and 26 percent of Ocean's 4,200 staff members worked in the Revel Casino in this building before it closed in 2014. It was one of five Atlantic City casinos to shut down in the last four years.

"Even though [Atlantic City] gone down in recent years — and it's obviously going to see an upswing in the very near future — it has always maintained that position as the No. 2 gaming market in the United States," said Matt Harkness, the president of Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Atlantic City.

The Hard Rock, which is the rebooted Trump Taj Mahal, will open the same day as Ocean Resort. It has 300 shows booked and 3,500 employees.

"It's great to bring a new story to Atlantic City," said Harkness, who entered the casino business 40 years ago just down the boardwalk as a dealer at Resorts. "I was a very good dealer."

In theory, the legalization of sports gambling in New Jersey provides more competition for these casinos and maybe reason for gamblers not to visit Atlantic City. But, perhaps unsurprisingly, the two new casinos see things differently."

"For some people, it might be nothing but I think it's actually going to help AC."

"I think it's going to help," Harkness said. "I think any amenity you add to these properties is a positive."

For 30 years, Bob and Gloria Shankle have come to Atlantic City for the same three reasons.

"Gamble, beach and boardwalk," Bob Shankle said.

They plan to continue to visit for those same three reasons and expect plenty of others to carry on A.C.'s 150-year history as a tourist destination, moving past what all who live, work, vacation, and invest here hope represents just a slump in this town's prosperity instead of the end.

"Atlantic City has seen ups and downs," Harkness said.

"It was bad for a while," Shankle said. "But they're starting to clean it up now."