Hard Rock Hotel and Casino won’t be the only new casino expected to open by the summer of 2018 in New Jersey. With the recent acquisition of the closed former Revel, the property that never turned a profit in its two years of operation will finally, hopefully, be given new life.
Ocean Resort Casino — with a new name and new owner — could actually be the next Atlantic City casino to open.
Brief history of the former Revel
The $2.4 billion Revel will go down in history as one of the worst casino gambling failures of all time. To no one’s surprise, it was one of the four Atlantic City casino closing casualties of 2014, and the loss of jobs from that casino-hotel alone totaled more than 3,000.
However, in August, 2015, developer Glenn Straub purchased the shuttered property from bankruptcy for the bargain price of $82 million, only to do nothing with it. That was despite Straub having such lofty expectations for the facility that he renamed it TEN. Like any other prospective casino owner in Atlantic City, Straub was required to apply for a license.
However, he refused to do so on the grounds that he would not be running the casino himself but would be leasing its operation to a third party. His long, costly, and ultimately unsuccessful court battle with the Casino Control Commission over this issue contributed to TEN not opening on schedule multiple times.
Given those circumstances and no indication of any progress, the odds of TEN ever actually opening became increasingly remote. Then, in January 2018, those odds plummeted to zero as a new buyer snapped up the property.
Colorado firm buys Revel/TEN from Straub
The former Revel, briefly known as TEN, changed hands again. In January 2018 it was sold to AC Ocean Walk, led by a Colorado-based investor Bruce Deifik, for $200 million.
When the hotel and casino reopen, the property will have a new name, Ocean Resort Casino. According to a report from Moody’s Investors, the new owners expect to invest an additional $175 million on top of the $200 million purchase price to get the property ready for a summer 2018 opening. Deifik is also the president and CEO of Integrated Properties, which owns multiple office and retail centers in metropolitan Denver and Phoenix.
A total of at least 2,500 new jobs are expected to become available with the opening of Ocean Resort Casino.
What Ocean Resort Casino is expected to offer the public
Ocean Resort Casino will be a full service resort. The casino will have 100 table games and 2,200 machines. Additional resort amenities are expected to include 1,399 hotel rooms, 13 restaurants, nightclubs, pools and a spa. The restaurants may include some of the more successful ones that previously operated at the Revel.
The 55,000-square-feet of retail space, 165,000-square-feet space for conventions, 5,700-seat concert hall, and parking garage for 7,000 vehicles will be retained as well. If New Jersey wins its case in the US Supreme Court to legalize sports betting in the state, Deifik also hopes to open a sportsbook on the premises.
Deifik doesn’t seem at all fazed by Revel’s bleak history, stating that his firm is “incredibly excited that we were able to take advantage of the opportunity to acquire this tremendous property at a time when Atlantic City is seeing great economic strides.”
He attributed the failure of the Revel to the fact that it “opened at a time when Atlantic City was still in economic recovery, and operationally it just did not cater to the customer base for this destination.”
Which will open first — Ocean Resort Casino or Hard Rock AC?
As for which casino will open first, Ocean Resort or Hard Rock, that remains to be seen. Obviously, both are hoping to be up and running in time for the big summer crowds. Having both resorts open should be mutually beneficial, too, since their close geographic proximity will assure spillover between the two casinos.
Ever since Hard Rock International purchased the former Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort from Carl Icahn, there has been widespread optimism for Atlantic City’s future.
Hard Rock AC has been approved by the Casino Control Commission to run the casino. The resort seems to be moving ahead, as projected, toward a summer opening. In fact, Hard Rock Atlantic City recently held a job fair specifically for former Taj employees in order to give them first consideration. About 1,400 applicants showed up for interviews.
Another encouraging sign is that both Hard Rock and Ocean Resort Casino have applied for a NJ online gambling license. Since we foresee no reason why these requests should not be approved, this is especially good news for njgamblingwebsites.com readers.
Will two new casinos help or hurt Atlantic City?
The prospect of having two new casinos, instead of simply more news of another one closing, sounds great for Atlantic City.
However, some experts are concerned that the sudden appearance of two new large casinos could backfire. They feel that nine casinos may be too many for Atlantic City. The presence of two new ones could upset the equilibrium that took a long time to reestablish and ultimately lead to a new wave of casino closings.
I have followed Atlantic City’s ups and downs closely since the inception of casino gambling there in 1978 and have lived in nearby Absecon since 2013. Therefore, I feel I am qualified to offer my opinion on the matter. I have to disagree with the naysayers.
I personally believe that the addition of two new casinos will be good for Atlantic City. One very positive outcome will be the creation of thousands of new jobs. However, ultimately a lot will depend on how well these new casinos are run.
On the one hand, each of these casino resorts must offer something unique and special that the other Atlantic City casinos do not. Hard Rock clearly succeeds in this area, as the Hard Rock brand and what it stands for is known worldwide. However, Ocean Resort Casino is a big question mark. The owners and management of Revel also had some innovative ideas, but they weren’t practical and were poorly executed.
In order for a casino property to succeed, it also needs to offer what today’s players want. Otherwise, the novelty will wear off and so will attendance. Hopefully, Ocean Resort Casino will offer the right combination of newness and relevance to resonate with many AC residents and visitors.