Casino News Roundup: Hard Rock, Bellagio Fountains, Peterborough

Donald Trump is seemingly the headline story every day and he's even tied into our casino news roundup for the week. Even though he hasn't been involved with it for a long time, his former casino/hotel in Atlantic City - the Trump Taj Mahal - is finally getting a much-needed facelift. That's where we'll start our casino news of the week.

Hard Rock Begins Renovation of Former Trump Taj Mahal

There have been some tough times in Atlantic City in recent years with a number of hotel and casino facilities needing to close down. However, some are undergoing renovations and one of those is the former Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort. After billionaire Carl Icahn couldn't make much of it, the Hard Rock International brand took it over and has now begun a makeover.

The initial cost of this rebranding was about $400 million. Now that they've actually started, the belief is that the cost to renovate the property, which is around four million square feet, could be as much as $500 million according to the chairman of Hard Rock International, Jim Allen. The cost is increasing as Allen says the building is "tired". As they've begun working on it, structural issues have come up. Beyond that, there are going to be millions in interior design costs just to update the decor. It will feature two arenas that will seat about 7,000 people, along with around 2,400 slot machines.

Hard Rock International paid about $50 million for the property and the plan is for it to open in the summer of 2018. It will also create jobs in the construction industry and about 3,000 jobs for the casino. Allen is also meeting with the unions to make sure there are no problems. As you may recall, that was what sunk Icahn's progress at the Taj Mahal.

Bellagio Fountains To Be Replaced?

If you've ever been to Las Vegas, you have definitely run across the fountains at the Bellagio as it is one of the iconic structures on the Strip. However, there are rumors that MGM had been considering replacing the fountains with shops. As shocking as that was to many people, the reality is that the fountains take up a huge chunk of real estate without returning a direct profit. Although it was originally deemed to be conjecture, the rumors got so loud that the higher-ups at MGM had to release a statement denying that was the case.

The fountains take up 8.5 acres of space on the Strip and millions of people take pictures in front of the fountains every year. With casino revenues going down but Las Vegas finding other ways to monetize activities - through spas, pool parties and shows - it's possible that the MGM people in fact will go down this road in the future. For now, the fountains will stay.

Peterborough, Ontario Approves Casino Site

Peterborough council have approved a site plan for a casino, which means the final hurdle has been cleared prior to construction. The casino is due to be around 4,800 square feet in size along with a 7,000 square-foot hotel and over 650 parking spaces. It'll be located at 1400 Crawford Drive.

The site plan also takes into account recommendations made by the Casino Watershed Task Force, who are concerned about the casino coming to their town. The task force is a group of concerned citizens and they have mostly environmental concerns. Those concerns have mostly been allayed, which is why the project will proceed.

The site plan still has to go through another vote on June 5, but if it is approved again (and they're confident that it will be), development can start immediately on the project and it will hopefully be done by the middle of 2018.