Perhaps the property was cursed. Maybe it was simply a result of poor management or closing casinos in Atlantic City.
Two previous companies, both with lofty aspirations of revitalizing the area with dazzling casinos, struggled to get off the ground. But that has not dampened the expectations of Ocean Resort Casino. It plans to open this summer on the same New Jersey property as the former Revel and TEN AC.
And it is determined to fulfill the game-changing goals of its would-be predecessors.
A curse upon the NJ casino property? Maybe…
The roots of a curse date back to 2006, when Morgan Stanley bought an Atlantic City property for $70 million. He charged Kevin DeSanctis, who had run Trump National, to head up development of a new casino: the Revel.
Four years later, after investing $1.2 billion in the project, Morgan Stanley severed ties with the property.
Then-New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie approved $261 million in state tax dollars to help the half-constructed project move forward. In 2011, a number of accidents plagued development. More than a dozen contractors sued the company over unpaid work. Rumors of a curse began.
From Revel to TEN to Ocean Resort Casino
Despite the drama, Revel opened to the public in 2012 — and began losing money almost immediately. By the end of the first quarter, it was reported that Revel lost $37 million while other nearby casinos were enjoying increased profits.
The casino filed for bankruptcy — twice — over the next two years. In 2014, Revel, site of the infamous domestic assault by former NFL running back Ray Rice that same year, closed its doors.
The property was then sold for $82 million to Glenn Straub, who rebranded it TEN. The new casino had planned to open by February 2017. But that never came to fruition. (TEN did launch a social online casino the following month.) Straub envisioned a June 2017 opening, which never came to be either.
Two months ago, after months of rumors, Straub sold the property to AC Ocean Walk. The new ownership group, which renamed the property Ocean Resort Casino, announced plans to spend $175 million in remodeling and repairs with a target to open by this summer.
Another headlining new casino, Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City, is expected to do the same.
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Will Ocean Resort Casino open as planned?
This summer will mark four years since a casino has been open on this property. Yet AC Ocean Walk is determined to end that drought.
If it does, Ocean Resort Casino will feature 138,000 square feet of gaming space. There will be a sportsbook, pending the US Supreme Court decision in the New Jersey sports betting case, and potentially a real-money online casino.
Ocean Resort still has a variety of hurdles to clear in order to open. As of late-February, it had yet to secure a casino operator license (though state regulators have said they are trying to help expedite the process).
Furthermore, Ocean Resort needs to hire thousands of new employees who are properly licensed by the state. The casino has posted a number of management positions online, and it will be part of an April job fair that aims to hire veterans.
A sign of the times
Recent history is not a promising predictor for Ocean Resort’s near future. On top of the black-eyed property’s track record of failed casinos, Atlantic City is still bouncing back from a wave of casino closures that left the area’s economy in shambles.
Yet Ocean Resort is poised to be different than its predecessors. Management has been strong. There seemingly hasn’t been any diverging from the timeline and few hiccups. In fact, Ocean Resort, along with Hard Rock AC, has been deemed by many to be at the forefront of an Atlantic City renaissance.
Last week, Ocean Resort unveiled its logo on the side of the casino. Around the property are signs that read “something beautiful is coming spring/summer of 2018.”
After 12 years, the property’s curse could potentially — finally — be lifted.