Atlantic City January 2021
For a 10th time Gov. Phil Murphy has extended New Jersey’s public-health emergency, this time through late January. The order expires after 30 days if it is not extended. The announcement came as New Jersey’s second-wave surge has shown some signs of leveling off. “Given where we are currently we must remain in a proper footing where [state officials] can have the authority to continue responding to the challenges posed by the pandemic,” the governor said.
The order gives Murphy the power to keep taking executive action to fight COVID-19’s spread. It does not reverse any of the steps the governor already has taken to reopen the state, or institute any new restrictions, but it does keep the state’s current restrictions in place – such as 50 percent capacity at stores and 25 percent capacity for indoor dining, as well as mandates to wear masks in public.
In addition, Murphy ordered bars and restaurants to halt indoor dining from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m.; however, takeout and outdoor dining may continue past 10 p.m., adding that no bar-side seating is allowed. Another change allows restaurants to seat tables closer than six feet apart if they erect a barrier. He also said that all indoor interstate athletic events will be prohibited.
For more information and details about COVID-19 in Atlantic City casinos, click here.
The Cove opens at Ocean Casino
The Cove High-Limit Slot Experience has opened at Ocean Casino Resort. As you enter the casino from the self-park garage, the 7,450-sq. ft. high limit gaming area is located just past Wahlburgers and features more than 140 slot machines with a combination of classic and new games. The private gaming area has its own cashiers, restrooms and two small sitting areas. The Cove also offers dedicated cocktail service with an enhanced beverage selection
Bally’s opens temporary sportsbook
Bally’s Corp. and FanDuel Group have opened a temporary FanDuel Sportsbook at Bally’s Atlantic City Hotel & Casino. The sportsbook features six live odds boards, 10 self-service betting kiosks, and three betting windows with attendants available to assist customers with the sports betting process. It will allow bets on all major U.S. sports, including professional baseball, soccer, football, basketball, golf, boxing, motorsports racing, and more.
Design and construction are currently underway on the permanent FanDuel Sportsbook location, which Bally’s expects to open in the spring. The facility will span 4,100 sq. ft. and consist of 34 self-service betting kiosks, and five attended live wagering windows. It also will feature a luxury 80-seat lounge with 30 reclining club chairs, oversized LED video walls, and a food and beverage menu including self-service craft beer.
The temporary sportsbook, directly accessible from the Boardwalk and prominently located on the main casino floor, is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week for self-service kiosks. Attendants are available at live wagering stations from noon to 10 p.m. Monday through Friday, and from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.
Ocean customers donate $12,000 to charities
Ocean Casino Resort donated $12,000 to four of its 2020 Ocean Cares-sponsored organizations. Representatives from The Alcove Center for Grieving Children and Families, The Humane Society of Atlantic County, and The Marine Mammal Stranding Center all were on hand to receive a $3,000 check from Ocean CEO Terry Glebocki.
The Ronald McDonald House also received a check but could not attend the presentation. The donation was made possible by the thoughtfulness of Ocean’s guests, who deposited their coin receipts into charity boxes posted around the casino floor. Those receipts of small change grew into thousands of dollars.
MGM extends (M Life) expiration dates
Players at Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa, part of MGM Resorts International, will benefit from that parent company’s extension of the expiration dates for M life Rewards Points and Express Comps until March 31, 2021. MGM will continue to evaluate this policy over the coming months.
According to an email from CEO and President Bill Hornbuckle, “We recognize that current events make it difficult, if not impossible, for so many to travel and we don’t want you to have ongoing concerns around your ability to enjoy rewards you have earned over time. We so look forward to the day you’ll be back to enjoy all the entertainment and fun MGM Resorts has waiting for you.”
Harrah’s reopens poker room
The second Atlantic City casino to bring back live poker following a resort-wide shutdown this year, Harrah’s Resort has reopened its World Series of Poker-branded roo. “We’ve spent the last several months ensuring we had enhanced health and safety measures in place, so both our players and team members can feel confident when they play at Harrah’s,” says Ron Baumann, senior vice president and general manager of Harrah’s and Caesars Atlantic City.
The poker room is open daily at noon and closes at 4 a.m. To encourage social distancing, seating is limited to eight per table and polycarbonate dividers separate players, who must wear masks. Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa, which has Atlantic City’s largest poker room, resumed live play Oct. 21.
In addition to Harrah’s and Borgata, there are poker rooms at Bally’s, Golden Nugget and Tropicana. Ocean Casino Resort had poker tables but removed them to make space for a new high-limit slot area, and there are plans to reopen the poker room at Tropicana at this time.
Free slot tournaments
Beginning Jan. 8 play in a free slot tournament at Resorts Casino Hotel every Friday through Feb. 19. Register at the Slot Tournament Area across from the Promotions Booth. Play once every Friday – Red Carpet cardholders can play twice – to win from $500 to $1,250 in slot cash. Winners have until midnight on the day of the tournament to claim their prizes.
Hard Rock makes changes to Wild Card Rewards
Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City’s Wild Card Rewards program has changed its earning period to a calendar year – Jan. 1 to Dec. 31. There also are changes to tier earning thresholds allowing players to accumulate tier points 20 times faster. To earn Rock Royalty and Elite status, players must now earn 4,000 and 15,000 tier points, respectively – up from 750 and 250 points. “Rest assured that we have made it easier for you to advance through our tiers, even though the tier point requirements have increased,” according to an email players received. While players began earning toward their 2022 status on Friday, Jan. 1, they will keep their current status through Sunday, Feb. 28, 2021. Tier benefits for status earned through Dec. 31, 2020, will become available Monday, March 1, 2021. Also, beginning on March 1, Hard Rock will be partnering with its Seminole Hard Rock properties in Florida to offer new benefits for X Card and Rock Royalty cardholders.
Trump Plaza to be demolished next month
The former Trump Plaza casino will be blown up next month and, for the right amount of money, you could be the one to press the button that brings it down. The demolition will become a fundraiser to benefit the Boys & Girls Club of Atlantic City that Mayor Marty Small hopes will raise more than $1 million.
Opened in 1984, Trump Plaza was closed in 2014 and has fallen into such a state of disrepair that demolition work began earlier last year. The remainder of the structure will be dynamited on Friday, Jan. 29. The Boys & Girls Club has hired a professional auction company to solicit bids through Tuesday, Jan. 19, when the top bids will be revealed and a live auction will determine a winner.
The organization provides after-school and summer recreation, education and career-training programs for Atlantic City children and teens. Billionaire Carl Icahn took ownership of the company out of bankruptcy court in February 2016 and Trump Plaza has sat empty for six years. Icahn has agreed to the demolition. Small said he is eager to discuss potential uses for the land with Icahn once the casino is gone, including some sort of family attraction. “Not often does inner-city oceanfront land open up,” the mayor said. “We have one chance to get this right.”
Ocean VIP Lounge opens daily to Platinum cardholders
While the Chairman and VIP Lounges are temporarily closed, Platinum Ocean Rewards Club cardholders may now use the VIP Lounge every day. Located in the area outside Ovation Hall, the lounge offers cocktails and other beverages, as well as full-service dining. Platinum cardholders are permitted up to one guest, and there is a charge of 10 comp dollars per person.
Transportation on the Caesars Rewards Shuttle has been temporarily suspended until further notice.
Leave the driving to them
Golden Nugget has reopened its valet parking service from noon Fridays to midnight Sundays. Upon arrival all vehicle occupants must have a face covering and valet team members also will be wearing face coverings, as well as protective gloves at all times.
Guests will be asked to lower their windows, and turn off air conditioning or heating in the vehicle. Keys are to be left in the center console cup holder. Through departure disposable steering wheel covers will be applied. Upon request, all high touch areas such as the gear shift, handles and window switches will be wiped down with a disinfectant.
Golden Nugget joins Borgata, Hard Rock, Ocean Casino and Tropicana offering limited or daily valet service to some or all of their customers. For details on current valet parking in Atlantic City, visit www.MrACCasino.com.
CRDA approves indoor water park
The Casino Reinvestment Development Authority has approved plans for Showboat Hotel’s proposed indoor water park, as well as 20 years of tax breaks. Owner, Philadelphia developer Bart Blatstein, will be entitled to an annual rebate of up to $2.5 million in sales tax generated by it.
There also will be tax breaks on construction materials used for the project. The 103,000-sq. ft. indoor water park, a 30,000-sq. ft. family entertainment center and a complete renovation of the Premier Lite tower in the Showboat Hotel are parts of the plan. The water park will be constructed on the New Jersey Avenue beach block lot between Showboat and Ocean Casino Resort.
Borgata President/COO named one of ‘25 People To Watch’
Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa President and Chief Operating Officer Melonie Johnson is among Global Gaming Business Magazine’s 19th annual “25 People To Watch” list for 2021. It’s the 19th edition of this popular feature published every year in the January issue.
Honorees are recognized for their past accomplishments and their upcoming potential actions that will have an impact on gaming in 2021 and beyond. The selections are made by the magazine’s Editorial Advisory Board, a collection of knowledgeable and connected people in the gaming industry. Nominees came from all aspects of the gaming business – land-based and online operators and suppliers, regulators, attorneys, tribal government officials, public officials, academics, and more.
Pennsylvania casinos, restaurants closed until Jan. 4
Based on mitigation measures put into place by Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf, Harrah’s Philadelphia (and all other casinos in Pennsylvania) remain closed until 8 a.m. Monday, Jan. 4. Theaters, concert venues, museums, movie theaters, arcades, bowling alleys, private clubs, and all other similar entertainment, recreational or social facilities also are prohibited from operating. In addition, indoor dining at restaurants, bars and other retail food services is prohibited.
Further, indoor gatherings and events of more than 10 persons are prohibited, with the exception of places of congregate worship; however, these institutions are strongly encouraged to find alternative methods for worship. Outdoor gatherings and events of more than 50 persons also are prohibited. All businesses serving the public only may operate at up to 50 percent of the maximum capacity stated on the applicable certificate of occupancy, except as limited by existing orders to a smaller capacity limit. “This virus continues to rage in Pennsylvania,” Wolf said at a news conference. “Clearly we need to take future mitigation actions and stop the spread of Covid-19. We all hoped it would not come to this. The current state of the surge in Pennsylvania will not allow us to wait.” For news related to other activities, click here.
Cruise lines cancel most cruises through March
Norwegian Cruise Line has canceled all voyages with embarkation dates through Sunday, Feb. 28, as well as all voyages onboard Norwegian Bliss, Breakaway, Epic, Gem, Getaway, Jade, Jewel, Pearl, Sky, Sun and Pride of America with embarkation dates through Wednesday, March 31. In addition, Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruise Line are extending their global suspension through Feb. 28.
Exceptions to this include Royal Caribbean Singapore sailings onboard Quantum of the Seas, and Spectrum of the Seas’ China departures between Sunday, Jan. 24 and Feb. 28.
Additionally, the remainder of the Royal Caribbean Australia/New Zealand season has been canceled through April.
For up-to-date information on Atlantic City players lounges and valet parking policies, visit MrACCasino.com.
Looking ahead (schedules subject to change):
Feb. 26 and 27: Sebastian Maniscalco, Borgata
Here are other “insider” tips about what’s happening in Atlantic City during January:
Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa
Earn 10X Slot Dollars on rated slot play from 9 p.m. to midnight every Friday in January.
Borgata is giving away 100 to 500 Bonus Slot Dollars to five winners (one from each M life Rewards card tier) every 15 minutes from noon to 7 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 3. Insert your M life Rewards card into any slot machine from 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. for a chance to win.
Earn 10X slot dollars from 9 p.m. to midnight on Fridays in January.
Borgata is giving away 777 Bonus Slot Dollars to one winner every seven minutes from noon to 7 p.m. on Sundays, Jan. 10 and 24, and Monday, Jan. 25. Insert your M life Rewards card into a slot machine or open a table games rating from 10 a.m.to 6:30 p.m. for a chance to win. Winners will have 30 minutes to claim their prize at the M life Rewards Desk. Winners’ names will be announced overhead and displayed on television screens throughout the casino. Each customer can only win once per event. Must be 21 or older. Valid ID required. Non-transferable. No play required for activation.
From 2 to 8 p.m. on Thursday and Friday, Jan. 14 and 15, play slots with your M life Rewards card and when Slot Dollar Celebration hits, you win 10 Bonus Slot Dollars. Your M life Rewards card must be inserted into a slot machine and active at the time of each drawing to be eligible. A card inserted into a slot machine for five minutes with no play will be considered inactive. Drawing times are random every hour.
Between Saturday and Monday, Jan. 16 and 18, 1,000 M life cardholders could win 1,000 Bonus Slot Dollars. Names will be posted on plasma screens throughout the casino floor. Drawings will be held from 4 to 9 p.m. Jan. 16 and 17, and from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Jan. 18. Awarded Bonus Slot Dollars, which must be played within 30 days, will be automatically loaded to winners’ M life Rewards account and are valid until 5:59 a.m. the following day. Slot Dollars not activated will be considered forfeited and voided.
On Saturday, Jan. 30, Borgata is giving away a Mercedes GLC 300 at 3, 6 and 9 p.m. Insert your M life Rewards card into a slot machine or open a table games rating from 1 to 8:30 p.m. for a chance to win.
Details on all promotions are available at the M life Rewards Center.
Caesars Atlantic City
Caesars Rewards Loyalty Program cardholders can make weekly picks by choosing which team they think will win in the eligible NFL football games and activate those picks for their chance to win a share of $60,000 in prizes each week. First place winner each week walks away with $20,000 cash. For further details click here.
Golden Nugget Casino, Hotel & Marina
Every Sunday in January 24K and Premier 24K Select cardholders receive 2X tier credits, Chairman cardholders get 3X and Elite cardholders get 4X.
Monday, Jan. 18, 24K Select cardholders receive 2X comp dollars.
Every Tuesday and Thursday in January 24K Select cardholders receive 2X tier credits and 2X comp dollars.
Free self-parking continues.
Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City
X and Rock Royalty cardholders can enjoy complimentary drinks at Hard Rock’s new outdoor Balcony Bar.
Hard Rock continues its Wild Card tier match program until further notice. Details here.
Rock Royalty and X cardholders can convert up to 1,000 comp dollars into free play once per day, every day, as long as they maintain a minimum $25 balance.
Entertainment and Events
The Lobby Bar offers free live entertainment plus drink specials every Saturday and Sunday.
Caesars Rewards cardholders can make weekly picks by choosing which team they think will win in the eligible NFL football games and activate those picks for their chance to win a share of $60,000 in prizes each week. First place winner each week walks away with $20,000 cash. For further details click here.
Ocean Casino Resort
Free self-parking continues for all Ocean Rewards Club cardholders.
Visit the Ocean Rewards Club for details.
Resorts Casino Hotel
Play your favorite slots or table games while using your Star Card through Sunday, Jan. 31, to earn entries into the $35,000 Jackpot Drawings on Saturday, Feb. 27. Earn one entry for every hand-paid taxable jackpot. At the Finale Event from 6 to 10 p.m., one winner of $1,000 in slot cash will be drawn every 10 minutes beginning at 6 p.m. At 10:15 the grand prize of $10,000 will be drawn.
Premiere Star cardholders who earn two tier points during a gaming day park free in the self-park garage at Resorts. Check any promotional kiosk to confirm the points and present a valid Star card at the exit.
Visit the Promotions Booth for details on all promotions.
Tropicana Atlantic City
Entertainment and Events
AC Jokes comedy club performs live at Kiss Kiss Nightclub nightly at 8 p.m., except Saturdays when showtime is 7 and 9 p.m. Shows last about 90 minutes. For more information and to purchase tickets visit ACJokes.com.
Everything AC Casinos (Atlantic City)
Recreational gambler Darryl D. McEwen is publisher of the Seven Stars Insider – both the website (SevenStarsInsider.com) and the monthly newsletter. For a free subscription to the newsletter, email him at SevenStarsInsider@gmail.com and tell him how you heard about it. You also can download the newsletter from the website where he frequently updates news about Caesars Entertainment Corp., Eldorado Resorts Inc. and Caesars Rewards under “Latest News” on the Home page. In addition, be sure to follow @7StarsInsider on Twitter. Darryl also writes a bi-weekly column, Mr. AC Casino, for the Atlantic City Weekly. The companion website is MrACCasino.com and the matching Twitter account is @MrACCasino. A former professional journalist, based in Wilmington, Del., Darryl is president of his own consulting firm that manages several small national and international trade associations, and provides public relations and fundraising services for a number of charitable organizations.