“Saga” is an apt way to describe the history of Atlantic City casino Revel/TEN AC.
The property owned by Glenn Straub has often hit the headlines for the wrong reasons over the past three years, miring itself in permit battles and ego-driven conflicts with the city. Thankfully, the Press of Atlantic City reported earlier this month, the property has been sold. This was big NJ casino and gambling news, especially for Atlantic City.
The new buyers, Colorado-based AC Ocean Walk, paid a reported $200 million for a property whose original construction bill surpassed $2 billion.
In a statement given to the Press of AC, AC Ocean Walk exec Bruce Deifik called the newly-acquired casino and hotel “tremendous.”
“We are 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,” Deifik was quoted as saying.
Former Revel will be renamed Ocean Resort Casino
The sprawling, glass-encased property will open this summer under its new name, Ocean Resort Casino.
That the former Revel is reopening as a casino and hotel is no doubt a relief for everyone in the city and state, not the least of which would be the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority. Its constant battles with former owner Straub were no doubt a drain on their patience and their desire to move Atlantic City forward.
What they get with the new announcement from Deifik’s group is another win for the city (the Hard Rock is slated to open later this year) and an investment group who, it is assumed, will spend its time meeting the city’s requirements rather than fighting them with Straub-like cantankerousness.
Deifik said he sees his group’s acquisition as additional horsepower to what has become a rather formidable engine of rebirth in Atlantic City.
“Now the city has a number of exciting new projects with our property and the Hard Rock, as well as Stockton University’s new campus and the expansion of the medical center,” he said in his statement.
Reactions to Revel/TEN casino sale in NJ
The announcement of the sale and the new Ocean Resort Casino drew a variety of responses on Twitter, with many reactions expressing the sort of timid belief you’d expect after two-and-a-half years of Straub’s antics.
One response noted that the otherwise elegant property had become a garish reminder of Atlantic City’s decline:
Revel stood out like a sore thumb in Atlantic City when it first opened. Hopefully any resemblance of economic recovery in the AC area will keep it in business this time around, because the building was absolutely incredible. #DoAC #OceanResortCasino https://t.co/nxOPIX2Mz4
— Michael Juan (@mjuan91) January 9, 2018
Jim Kennedy, an analyst who specializes in AC’s casino industry, noted that the property will have to undergo some serious brand rehabilitation. Revel was often criticized for a very confusing casino-floor layout:
Ocean Resorts reopening HQ & some of the original restaurants runs a real risk. ORC can’t look like Revel 2 and work. The building is an iconic broken brand. There has to be a well articulated product differences. To satisfy the critics something broken needs to be fixed
— Jim Kennedy (@ACEconPolicy) January 11, 2018
Dave Weinberg, a sports reporter who covers the Press of AC’s Philadelphia Eagles beat, offered this simple expression of excitement about Ocean Resort Casino:
— Dave Weinberg (@PressACWeinberg) January 9, 2018
And, finally, Wayne Parry, another Press of Atlantic City reporter who frequents the casino beat, expressed optimism as well:
The new owner of AC's former Revel casino is calling it Ocean Resort Casino. That's different from what Glenn Straub wanted to call it, which was "TEN." Now take the new name, speculate that it will be a bit better than what Straub had planned, and you get….Ocean's Eleven! pic.twitter.com/jWJKY81i3d
— Wayne Parry (@WayneParryAC) January 8, 2018
Straub still makes a profit off Revel casino sale
Straub, a Florida-based developer, bought the Revel out of bankruptcy in August 2015, rescuing the shuttered casino and hotel just two and a half years after the property opened in April 2012.
Revel was the unfortunate poster child of AC’s 2014 casino contraction, in which four properties closed and sent the city’s finances into a tailspin. Despite the best efforts of Mayor Dick Guardian and the city council, they could not submit a feasible 2017 budget. As a result, the state took over the city’s finances.
Amid this upheaval, Straub made promise after promise that the rebranded TEN AC would open its doors despite a lack of proper permitting.
Meanwhile, the state managed to settle an outstanding tax debt toward Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa. In the following months, Hard Rock International announced it would purchase the Trump Taj Mahal.
During all of this, Straub was still allegedly planning to open TEN AC, but his promises never came to fruition.
It’s unclear how much the developer poured into the property in the 29 months he owned it, but, based on the purchase and sale price of Revel, Straub stands to earn at least double what he paid for Revel.