A move to revitalize Resorts Casino Hotel with the addition of a $35 million, beachfront-based Margaritaville complex is paying quick dividends for the property, and may provide a blueprint for resort improvement elsewhere along The Boardwalk.
Part of an overall $70 million facility upgrade undertaken by Resort Casino Hotel Owner Morris Baily and overseen by Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority (MTGA) subsidiary Mohegan Gaming Advisors (MGA), Margaritaville at Resorts Casino opened in May with a ribbon cutting presided over by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and a Jimmy Buffett concert on the beach that drew more than 50,000 fans. Designed to lure new audiences to the casino, Margaritaville at Resorts Casino was an overnight hit, and has emerged as the Margaritaville brand's most successful launch to date. July and August revenue in Atlantic City was the highest for any Margaritaville location during this time period, even with the portfolio encompassing more than 20 properties in the United States, Mexico and Australia, among other destinations.
Results inside the casino were also positive, according to a company press release. Overall customer visitation numbers at the casino were up 25 percent May through August, while property‐wide restaurant patronage was up by 175,000, or 38 percent. The casino announced that August gaming revenues were up more than 11 percent versus the prior year. The results followed gains for Resorts in July, as well, at 6.2 percent versus the prior year.
“The gains at Resorts Casino are significant for Atlantic City as a whole,” said Bailey in a prepared statement. “We're not trying to ‘out‐Vegas’ Las Vegas. We're bringing the fun back to Atlantic City and focusing on the natural amenities that historically have given us a unique identity—the beautiful beach itself and the legendary boardwalk here at Resorts Casino.”
The Margaritaville complex includes Atlantic City's first year‐round bar and restaurant located directly on the beach, the LandShark Bar & Grill, as well as a Margaritaville Cafe, Margaritaville‐themed casino area, Five O'clock Somewhere bar, retail stores, and coffee shop.
“The addition of the Margaritaville brand has been an ideal fit as we position Resorts Casino to offer a playful, fun atmosphere that is appealing and inviting to new audiences,” said Mitchell Etess, CEO of the MTGA. “We're so pleased to see initial results exceeding even our own expectations.”
The investment in Margaritaville at Resorts Casino has helped transform the property to a more complete leisure destination, matching the vision that Governor Christie and other state and local officials have established for Atlantic City itself.
The successful turnaround offers confirmation that emphasizing Atlantic City's beachfront identity as a gaming destination can be successful. The city's fortunes have been closely watched as competition in nearby states has eroded a portion of its audience. Indeed, Resorts' summer gains have come against a backdrop of declines at a number of Atlantic City casinos, with overall gaming revenues down 3.6 percent and 4.8 percent in July and August respectively.