Ocean Resort ramping up concerts to compete in Atlantic City

This June 28, 2018, photo shows the exterior of the Ocean Resort Casino in Atlantic City, N.J., on the day it opened. Its owner, Bruce Deifik, said Sept. 12, 2018 that the casino will take in, for free, people fleeing Hurricane Florence. (AP Photo/Wayne Parry)

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — The Ocean Resort Casino is joining with a major concert promoter to expand its entertainment offerings as it seeks to compete in the cutthroat Atlantic City nightlife market.

The casino announced a deal Monday with The Bowery Presents/AEG to stage concerts at the Boardwalk property, which has offered comparatively little in the way of big-name entertainment since opening in June.

Acts announced Monday include Brooks & Dunn, Lee Brice, Kenny Loggins, Jethro Tull’s Ian Anderson, The Monkees, The Isley Brothers, and comedian Frank Caliendo.

Having a robust concert schedule is considered essential to succeeding in the newly expanded Atlantic City market. Ocean Resort opened the same day as Hard Rock, which unveiled a vast concert and comedy lineup spanning its first year of operation.

For the past 10 years, Atlantic City has made a concerted effort to expand its appeal as an entertainment destination, not just as a place to gamble, and casinos ignore live entertainment at their peril.

“We are ecstatic that we finally have an entertainment announcement of real consequence,” said Bruce Deifik, the casino’s owner. “We have another 110 to 120 offers out to artists.”

Ocean Resort, the former Revel casino, has a prime 5,500-seat concert venue, Ovation Hall. But there have been relatively few big names appearing there so far aside from Kesha, Wanda Sykes and Wayne Brady.

Deifik said it has been difficult ramping up a full concert schedule before the casino was licensed and operating. Yet Hard Rock was able to do just that, leaning on its worldwide network of relationships with artists and agents. And the Borgata has been presenting A-list musical and comedy artists for 15 years.

“Hard Rock is one of the great brands of the world and they have decades of relationships with artists,” Deifik said. “We are a single, family-owned property that’s trying to activate an entertainment roster. My hat is off to the Hard Rock.”