As the weather warms up and COVID worries ease, Atlantic City officials and casino owners are getting ready for what they hope and anticipate will be a big spring and summer. The preparation starts with the moves and investments that the casinos are undertaking.
In anticipation of the expected business boost, several gaming halls have been investing in upgrades, makeovers and new projects. Those range from a major renovation at Ocean Casino Resort, including completing rooms that were never finished when it opened as Revel, to major upgrades at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City and Bally’s, and new amusement and dining projects at Showboat and Tropicana.
Add in a calendar of high-profile events, including the Chamber of Commerce’s ReNEW Jersey Summit, which set the tone for a return to even more normalcy in 2022. “We expect this to be the single largest business event in the state this year,” Chamber President and CEO Tom Bracken said of the April 13-14 event.
Gov. Phil Murphy highlighted Atlantic City’s importance to the state as he delivered the Keynote Address for the conference, which served as a replacement for the annual Walk to Washington trip. “I cannot think of a better place for us to all gather than Atlantic City,” Murphy said. “And this won’t be my only visit to Atlantic City this month. I’m coming back in two weeks.”
Murphy closed his speech with a call to support Atlantic City businesses. “You’ve already had a long and productive day and, well, it’s nearly time to get out and spend some money supporting the hospitality industry that is the backbone of Atlantic City.”
Mayor Marty Small opened the second day of the summit with similar sentiments and touted his administration’s efforts. “I see the title is ‘ReNEW Jersey’ and that’s what we’re doing here in the great city of Atlantic City,” he said. “Renewing Atlantic City, taking it to a place that it hasn’t been before, and maximizing its potential.”
“As we continue to learn how to live with COVID-19, we’re seeing more event planners begin to host their meetings and conventions in person in our destination,” said Meet AC’s President and CEO Larry Seig. “As we move into the high seasons of spring and summer, we’re expecting to see these events increase in frequency and size. This spring, we’re expecting to see a total of 23,600 room nights generating $27 million in economic impact for Atlantic City.”
This activity comes on the heels of a strong first quarter, with Meet AC reporting 11 events hosted, including eight at the Atlantic City Convention Center. That resulted in 23,211 rooms being booked, which despite the omicron wave, generated more than $34 million in revenue, a significant increase over 2020 and 2021.
Some other notable events are Zero Gravity Live from April 22 to 24, which is expected to generate nearly $4 million in economic activity; Rock ’n’ Roll Atlantic City from May 14 to 15, which anticipates close to $3 million in economic impact; and the Police Security Expo on June 28 and 29, which expects 8,000 attendees and more than $3 million in economic activity.
Another major recent announcement was the return of the always-popular Atlantic City Airshow — “A Salute to Those Who Serve” — which takes place on Aug. 24. The event is the premier beachfront airshow, drawing more than 500,000 spectators annually.
This year’s show will be extra special with U.S. Navy’s F/A-18 Super Hornet “Rhino” East Coast Demo Team flying for the first time in Atlantic City in five years.
“It’s incredible to have the Navy’s Rhino Demo Team fly in the A.C. Airshow again,” said Michael Chait, president of the Greater Atlantic City Chamber. “As one of only nine airshows that the Rhinos will participate in this year, we feel very honored to have them fly in Atlantic City’s.”
“Visitors flock to our destination for this iconic event every year, and they look forward to cheering as the planes dip and dive over the Atlantic Ocean,” Seig said. “We couldn’t be more honored to power the Atlantic City Airshow this year and are excited to work alongside the Greater Atlantic City Chamber to put on a fantastic show.”
The show will also feature the popular U.S. Army Golden Knights parachute team.
Not surprisingly, casinos also anticipate a surge of action in both gaming and sports betting. The U.S. casino industry won nearly $9 billion from gamblers the first two months of this year.
And after the last few years of a brutal pandemic, everyone in the seaside resort can is ready for a significant increase in tourism, hospitality and gaming dollars.