Ocean Casino Resort may not have land-based customers at the moment, but Wednesday was a very big day.

During the New Jersey Casino Control Commission hearing, Luxor Capital Group received approval to own Ocean.

The news comes after the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) completed a thorough and comprehensive investigation.

Ocean shared the news via a press release.

Luxor Capital reaction

Luxor Capital getting approval took several months to complete.

Going back to January 2019, the New York-based investment firm was revealed as the new mystery owner.

Call it the first step of a very long process, including Terry Glebocki being named permanent CEO in December. The company took a “top-down, bottom-up approach” to turn the property around.

Of course, now the Ocean team faces the additional challenge of the post-coronavirus shutdown.

For now, the license holder is happy about clearing the first hurdle.

Mike Conboy, a partner at Luxor Capital, commented on the news.

“We thank the Casino Control Commission and Division of Gaming Enforcement for granting Luxor Capital its approval.

“In 2019, Ocean Casino Resort was the fastest-growing casino in Atlantic City. Ocean’s future is bright, and we look forward to welcoming back our guests and employees at the appropriate time,” said Conboy.

Glebocki, who testified during the hearing, also commented on the news.

“I’d be remiss if I didn’t recognize my Ocean team. We’ve produced some year-over-year results that we are especially proud of. This was a team effort and wouldn’t have been possible without the dedication of each and every team member throughout our property doing their job.

“We look forward to a successful reopening in the not too distant future but until then I hope everyone stays safe and healthy,” said Glebocki.

The impact of COVID-19 on Ocean Casino

Prior to the pandemic forcing the lights to go out temporarily, the property was enjoying quite a ride.

Through the first three months of the year, Ocean has reported a casino win of $45.8 million.

This is good enough for middle-of-the-pack standing:

March, along with April and May, will show a noticeable drop in revenue across the board.

The most recent DGE numbers show Ocean took a 46.2% hit in total gaming revenue for March. And that is a result of being closed for just two weeks.

Plus, as a result of the closure, Ocean’s plans that are targeted for a summer reveal are delayed. They include:

  • Completing 12 unoccupied floors of hotel rooms.
  • Finishing plans for new high-limit slot and table game lounges.
  • Reconfiguring the casino floor.

With New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy extending the public health emergency another 30 days, it’s difficult figuring out a timeline.

Focusing on the reopening plans, however, is a priority.

During Wednesday’s hearing, Glebocki said the company launched a survey to 50,000 guests this week. The early “overwhelming response” is that people want to come back.

Finding out what is important to those loyal guests tops the list.

While opening by Memorial Day weekend is unrealistic, the team is taking the necessary steps.

“We look forward to the successful reopening.

“And I can tell you that we are working round the clock to prepare for that reopening so that we can do it in both a safe and trusted environment for both our guests and employees,” said Glebocki.

Ocean and a renewed online gaming focus

During the hearing, Glebocki was asked if she sees online casino gambling an area of potential growth for Ocean.

“Absolutely,” is the short answer.

And there is plenty of room for improvement. For March, the casino reported $658,916 in NJ online casino revenue, ranking last among the seven license holders. This is still good enough for a 32.4% year-over-year increase.

Keep in mind that the Ocean online casino does not have an Apple iOS app yet. Parx is the only other brand operating under the license.

Call it the next step of a long-term plan.

“In 2019, our focus at the property was the brick-and-mortar. There was so much we wanted to get done from a brick-and-mortar standpoint, and that is exactly what we did,” said Glebocki.

“In our plan for 2020, it included more iGaming focus. We’ve been working with the division to get more initiatives in place for iGaming. There is a lot of room to grow there, and the future is bright.”

 

Bill Gelman

About

Bill Gelman is a veteran sports writer based just outside of Philadelphia and not too far from the Jersey Shore. Bill spends time in Atlantic City writing about casino openings and expansions, special events and world championship boxing at Boardwalk Hall. He is now adding NJ sports betting and online gambling to the mix.