The world famous Atlantic City Showboat Hotel and Casino, which was originally built in 1987 and closed in November 2014, is set to reopen next week – without the casino. C.E.O and president of Tower Investments, Bart Blastein, is the new owner of The Showboat Hotel. Blastein, who has always had a soft spot for Atlantic City, is working hard to rebuild the losses of some major properties in Atlantic City, including not only the Showboat, but also The Playground, formerly Pier Shops at Cesar’s, which he bought in 2014.
Blastein says when he bought The Playground, it was losing around three million dollars a year and he has since raised the profits to $1.5 mil. He has turned the area, which was formerly made up of mainly shops, into a blazing hot entertainment district. His bright vision and talent for turning around bleeding businesses could mean a big comeback for The Showboat Hotel.
Blastein, along with Tower Investments, bought The Showboat in January of this year from Stockton University. The University had planned to turn the hotel into a campus for Atlantic City students. This deal went sour when Trump Entertainment Resorts, which owned a hotel next door, said they did not want minor students living next to a casino and hotel.
The Largest Hotel (Without a Casino) in New Jersey
Since they nixed the casino, The Atlantic City Showboat Hotel will be opening another 852 guest rooms. This investment and refurbishment will officially make The Showboat Hotel the largest hotel in New Jersey that doesn’t include a casino.
All of the extra guest rooms and refurbishments being made to the hotel have created all sorts of new jobs in New Jersey. Blastein has said that reopening the hotel along with the two towers will create hundreds of new jobs locally. Traffic to the new Showboat will also mean traffic for the businesses in the vicinity. This even means that there will be more business for the Taj Mahal, the hotel owned by Trump Entertainment.
Good News for Jersey Shore?
Most people view this as an excellent decision and one that will open up new possibilities in New Jersey. Alan Woinski, C.E.O of Gaming U.S.A Corps, has said that the last thing he thinks Jersey needs is more casino space, but also that when all of the casinos closed down in 2014, it cut too far back on the amount of hotel space available. Publisher for Global Gaming Business Magazine, Roger Gros, reminds everyone that while in the city for even the smallest of conventions, they still will need a hotel room.
They’re not wrong – as all of the casino closures, including The Showboat, Revel, The Atlantic Club and Trump Plaza – resulted in a massive loss of over 4,000 available hotel rooms. Reopening over 800 in the Showboat is a huge plus, but still only a step for Blastein, who continues to keep buying prominent property in Atlantic City and turning the magic (and the lights) back on in them.
But not everyone agrees that this is such a great decision, or that it will necessarily turn out like Blastein expects it will. While Gros believes, like many, that the city is always in need of hotel rooms – he doesn’t exactly think that reopening a former hotel and casino without the casino is the way to go about it. He says he thinks Blastein will make a go of it for a few months, but goes on to say that even WITH a casino, the Showboat had a fairly low occupancy rate.
Atlantic City Lives Again
Blastein is amazingly optimistic about how the situation will turn out, as are many other happy campers in Atlantic City that are eagerly awaiting the return of the famous Atlantic City Showboat…even without the casino. People from all over the world come to Atlantic City and many were very upset when many of the major casinos shut down. Blastein is working hard to reverse this effect and set up some major lighthouses that put out a beckoning call to old and new tourists alike.
It’s hard not to see it as a success already. The renovation, extra rooms, extra towers and hundreds of extra jobs are a great start. Blastein’s success with The Playground also seems to send a message that he knows exactly what he’s doing. The Atlantic City Showboat Hotel is set to reopen next week. Time will tell, for this landmark hotel and the city itself.