ATLANTIC CITY – Two new Atlantic City casinos opened their doors to the public Wednesday afternoon, a day ahead of their scheduled grand openings.
At the Ocean Resort Casino, the casino that is replacing the failed $2.5 billion Revel Resort, Rodney and Ingrid Peterson of Clifton Park, N.Y. played the slots, got a drink from a cocktail waitress, and marveled at the idea that the casino had ever closed in the first place. Nearby, a sports bar prepared to take bets.
"This building is unbelievable," Rodney said. "To let it go to waste is crazy."
Michael Preston, a spokesman for Ocean, confirmed that the casino was open ahead of schedule. "Yes, the property is open," he said. Still, police tape and flexible fencing were still up on its new Boardwalk stairways.
Over at Hard Rock, spokesman Tim Louie insisted that the property was still in the middle of its "soft opening" for friends and family only. But doors were open Wednesday night, and members of the public were trading up their tier cards in return for $25 in gambling money. The Associated Press reported that both properties received official approval to open from the Division of Gaming Enforcement Wednesday, Hard Rock at 3 p.m., Ocean at 5:45 p.m.
Ted Martin and his wife Cheryl, up from Florida to a condo they have in Atlantic City, wandered in to Hard Rock and declared it better than the Trump Taj Mahal.
"It's cleaner, happier, friendlier," Cheryl said.