The grand opening of Ocean Resort Casino is building toward its climax.

For months, the incoming Atlantic City casino — along with the opening of Hard Rock Atlantic City — has been looked upon as a savior of sorts for the Boardwalk.

After all, the city has been mired in economic and tourism woes for years.

Ocean Resort, as well as Hard Rock AC, has tapped June 28 as its opening date. But one pivotal hurdle has yet to be cleared.

With only one hearing remaining for the New Jersey Casino Control Commission before the casino’s debut, Ocean Resort Casino has yet to obtain a casino license.

Quick action is needed for ORC opening

For months, Ocean Resort has been in a dead heat with Hard Rock AC for landing the most headlines. Ocean Resort, however, has the luxury of taking over a failed casino (the former Revel/TEN) and turning it into something glamorous.

Still, it seems a step behind its incoming competitor.

Hard Rock received its casino license May 9. Ocean Resort Casino, meanwhile, is still having its application vetted by the state’s Division of Gaming Enforcement.

The DGE must then submit a report to the Casino Control Commission, which has final say on licensing.

If Ocean Resort Casino is still targeting a June 28 opening, which its owner has staunchly stood by, the casino would need to have its license approved in short order. The DGE said in February it would move quickly on the licensing process for the casinos.

The CCC’s last scheduled hearing before the opening is June 6. No notices are posted regarding Ocean Resort’s license at the time of this writing.

A license hearing does not need to be held during a regularly scheduled public meeting, however. One could be called so long as the commission issues a 48-hour notice to the public.

Ocean Resort Casino still ahead of its predecessors

As Ocean Resort began taking shape, signs on the building noted that “something beautiful is coming.” That in itself was an improvement from the property’s previous tenants.

Before opening in 2012, Revel was a $2.4 billion catastrophe bound by financial shortcomings. So much so that the casino’s opening was delayed several times. Just 29 months after opening, Revel went bankrupt and closed its doors.

In 2015, Florida developer Glenn Straub bought the property out of bankruptcy for $82 million. His intention was to reopen the casino as TEN. The problem was he was constantly battling with state regulators about whether or not he needed a casino license.

TEN never debuted to the public.

A summer debut is still in the cards

This past January, AC Ocean Walk purchased the property for $200 million. The ownership group quickly announced plans to rebrand as Ocean Resort Casino and targeted a summer debut.

AC Ocean Walk vowed to pour $175 million into remodeling and repairs. The company remains adamant about turning Ocean Resort into a memorable, innovative and ground-breaking casino. It is equally adamant about its opening date.

As quickly as the purchase was made, Ocean Resort applied for a casino license, something TEN never got around to. It also made plans to launch an NJ gambling site in the future with partner GAN.

And recently the casino partnered with British bookmaker William Hill to operate its sportsbook now that NJ sports betting is legal.

“The first thing we did is pay very close attention to what people said about this place, positive and negative,” said Bruce Deifik, the Colorado developer behind AC Ocean Walk, in a recent interview with the Associated Press.

“We will listen; that’s a difference-maker. Treat people with respect. Be glad they’re here, and treat them as family members. The main difference is a completely different attitude concerning service to our customer. I think there was a huge disconnect there.”

All that remains now is to make it official before those shiny doors open to the public next month.

Grant Lucas

About

Grant Lucas is a longtime sportswriter who has covered the high school, collegiate, and professional levels. A graduate of Linfield College in McMinnville, Grant has covered games and written features and columns surrounding prep sports, Linfield, and Oregon State athletics and the Portland Trail Blazers throughout his career.