Borgata opening sparks AC hotel expansion

Jul 8, 2003 4:16 AM

Now that the billion-dollar Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa is open, Atlantic City construction has shifted to Resorts, Tropicana and The Walk.

"We’re still pretty busy," said William Pauls, president of the South Jersey Building Trades Council and a business manager for Ironworkers Local 350 in Atlantic City. "There was a little drop off, but we’re holding our own. The other jobs have sucked all the men up."

The Press At Atlantic City reports that Resorts has plans for a $115 million, 28-story hotel tower. Fifteen floors of the new tower have been poured and the project is expected to be completed next June.

A crew of about 200 is working at the site of The Walk, a $60 million retail and entertainment project at the base of the Atlantic City Expressway. Construction is expected to continue there until the early fall and the complex is expected to open in phases.

The Tropicana is building The Quarter, a $245 million Old Havana-themed expansion. The project, which is scheduled to open in March 2004, includes an upscale retail and entertainment complex, a 502-room hotel tower and a new parking garage.

Borgata shoves off

The much-awaiting opening of Borgata came off at 11:38 p.m. last Wednesday, a bit earlier than planned. Within an hour, the tables were packed. Slot play picked up in the early-morning hours Thursday and the casino never stopped hopping.

"You think you’re in Las Vegas," said Davis Martin, a 73-year-old from Villanova, Pa., who visits that gambling capital two to three times a year. "We came over here from Caesars (Atlantic City). I called about getting a room here but couldn’t get one."

Visitors eager to see the city’s first new casino hotel in 13 years flooded every area of the property, bringing wide smiles to executives but also taxing the casino hotel’s staff and systems.

"It’s met our expectations," CEO Robert Boughner said of the crowds. "We figured once our advertising launched, it would create strong demand immediately and clearly it has."

Gov. James E. McGreevey and other public officials toured Borgata, then attended a midday press conference at which they praised co-owners Boyd Gaming and MGM Mirage for their $1.1 billion investment in the city.

Mass confusion

Steven Norton, a former president of the Sands Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, announced plans last week to build a $500 million hotel, entertainment and casino complex on the banks of the Acushnet River.

The problem is that casino gaming is illegal in Massachusetts and that no notice was given to local politicians, according to a report in the New Bedford Standard-Times.

There has been no sign of progress on casino legislation. Both Gov. Mitt Romney and House Speaker Thomas Finneran have come out against the idea.

Monticello slots in 04?

The Middletown Times Herald-Record reports that slot machines controlled by the New York state lottery system should be operating in the new racino at Monticello Raceway by the second quarter of 2004.

Plans are for the grandstand at the track to be demolished in September to make way for a $50 million building and some 1,800 video lottery terminals.

The construction will begin despite threats of a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the law that allows video lottery terminals at harness tracks.

Tucson casino draws raves

An estimated 5,000 people played the slots and tables during a successful opening last week of the permanent Casino Del Sol in Tucson.

"This is the best casino I’ve ever been in and I’ve been to a lot of them," said Raquel Schlesselman, a Tucson resident.

USA: The owners of Foxwoods (Conn.) Resorts Casino want a role in a proposed thoroughbred racetrack proposed for eastern Pennsylvania”¦WORLD: William Hill, the second largest operator of betting shops in England, said it has seen record trading over the past six months.