- 1 Jan. 2017: Despite delays, Straub announces Feb. 20 opening
- 2 2016: Out with Revel, in with TEN
- 3 2015: Straub and Revel finally finalize deal
- 4 2014: Revel files for bankruptcy again
- 5 2013: Revel files for bankruptcy
- 6 2012: Revel opens its doors
- 7 2011: Christie rescues, construction wrecks
- 8 2010: Morgan Stanley pulls the plug
- 9 2006: DeSanctis has a dream
The high-end mega-property with $2.4 billion price tag aimed to change the way Atlantic City did business by cultivating an elite clientele, offering top-of-the-line entertainment and amenities, and employing a business plan not unlike the boutique casinos of Las Vegas.
Before the project even opened, it was plagued with problems. The casino economy in New Jersey tanked, the construction was rife with injuries and lawsuits, and the state had to intervene financially to the tune of $261 million just to get Revel in operating shape.
From there, things only seemed to get worse. After three quarters of eight-figure losses, the property filed for bankruptcy, then filed again before closing in September of 2014.
The story of Revel did not end there. After a complicated legal battle, Glenn Straub purchased the property for pennies on the dollar and proclaimed lofty plans for the premises. Legal red tape and political and business in-fighting have kept those plans sidelined for over a year.
With a potential rebranding and relaunch of Revel as TEN, it is a good time to take a look back from the very beginning to now to see how this billion-dollar dream turned into a nightmare for the Garden State (to start from the very beginning, scroll to the bottom and read up):
Jan. 2017: Despite delays, Straub announces Feb. 20 opening
Unsurprisingly, the battle between Atlantic City lawmakers and Straub continued into the new year. The latest hearing to discuss opening TEN was delayed after Straub’s legal team filed paperwork hours before the start of a scheduled meeting.
At the meeting, Straub spoke with the press and assured the hotel would be opening without a casino component on Feb. 20, delay be damned.
TEN’s website is currently functional, but lacking details or confirmation of an opening date. Given how many times Straub has promised a reopening, the safest bet with this historically risky property is to keep an eye on developments and expect results later rather than sooner.
2016: Out with Revel, in with TEN
In February of 2016, the lights atop the property were on for the first time since closing. Despite being closed for 18 months, the property remained in decent shape. Straub continued to suggest a summer opening was imminent.
In September, Straub revealed a new name for the property: TEN. Straub cited Bo Derek as inspiration for the new moniker. Straub was still lacking the certificate of occupancy necessary to officially open.
TEN earned a temporary certificate in October.
2015: Straub and Revel finally finalize deal
Straub and Revel began court proceedings to finalize the sale at the start of the year. Continued legal disputes and ongoing negotiations about the power plant supporting Revel delayed the official sale several months.
In April, the sale was finalized with a price tag of $82 million. Straub renamed the property Polo North and assured it would reopen by the summer. It was unclear exactly what the property would be, however.
Straub offered several possibilities for the site, including an equestrian center, ropes course, academic institution for geniuses, water park, medical tourism facility and think tank. He and the company claimed local government and bureaucracy were slowing down efforts to reopen the property.
2014: Revel files for bankruptcy again
The changes in day-to-day operations did little to turn things around for Revel. By the second quarter, the casino had lost another $60 million. In June the company filed for a second bankruptcy and warned that closure might be on the horizon.
The company obtained a $125 million loan, but still filed for bankruptcy protection.
“We will work to reach an agreement with a new owner who will help ensure Revel’s long-term financial stability and who shares our commitment to providing Revel’s guests and players an exceptional experience in lodging, gaming, entertainment and recreation,” CEO Scott Kreeger told the New York Times.
Revel repeatedly ran into trouble finalizing a sale for even a fraction of the initial cost of the property. As a result, the property closed on Sep. 2, just one week before video surfaced of NFL running back Ray Rice assaulting his wife in a Revel elevator earlier in the year.
The next month, Revel declared Toronto-based Brookfield Holdings as the winning bidder at auction with its $110 million offer. Glenn Straub, the second-highest bidder, challenged the sale. Straub declared the auction was unfair and improper.
Straub filed an appeal that ended up not being necessary. A dispute over a power plant led to Revel and Brookfield terminating the sale.
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2013: Revel files for bankruptcy
The new year was the same tune for Revel. In the first quarter, the property lost $40 million. Critics of DeSanctis pointed out the biggest issue was the New Jersey casino was not successful getting people to gamble.
As a result, the casino filed for Chapter 11 in February. The choice was necessary after Standard & Poor’s downgraded Revel’s credit rating to a ‘D’ after the company failed to show signs the casino could ever recoup its substantial costs.
Gov. Christie tried to remain positive about the news. Said Christie, according to Press of Atlantic City:
“They could close Revel down if they wanted to. If they thought that there was no future there, they could close Revel down. Instead, they’re taking debt that they’re owed legally and turning it into ownership. That’s an investment by these folks in that hotel.”
Initial rumors suggested the company was looking for an existing Atlantic City operator to purchase the casino. The problem was the price tag. A similar Vegas property, the Cosmopolitan, was valued at $500 million. Revel was supposedly touting a $700 million price.
As part of the Chapter 11 proceedings, the casino was valued at $450 million. The company’s debt was consolidated to $272 million.
DeSanctis was pushed out and Jeffrey Hartmann took over as interim CEO. Revel slashed hotel room rates, added a smoking section, and took a more welcoming approach to the typical Atlantic City slots-playing clientele.
2012: Revel opens its doors
It was a positive start to the year for Revel. Construction wrapped and goodwill was at an all-time high for the $2.4 billion project. The creation of 10,000 new jobs was a cause to celebrate, especially for Christie.
“The completion of Revel and its opening is a turning point for Atlantic City and a clear sign that people once again have faith in the City’s ability to come back and be successful,” Christie said in an official press release about Revel’s impending opening.
Projections for Revel forecasted $153 million in payroll and $155 million annually in taxes for the Garden State.
The property’s soft open was peppered with extravagant events like a Beyonce concert attended by then-First Lady Michelle Obama. Beyonce returned for the official Memorial Day weekend festivities. The high-end approach of Revel drew the attention of many in the casino industry.
The finished property featured 130,000 square feet of gaming space, 55,000 square feet of retail space, 1,400 hotel rooms (at a base rate of $239/night), high-end restaurants, a private beach, and a schedule of top-tier entertainers frequenting the site’s two night clubs and state-of-the-art performance venue.
Despite the long list of amenities and hopes the high-end feel of Revel would draw customers who were not making the trip to the Jersey Shore, the casino immediately started losing money. In its first quarter, the property lost $37 million while every other casino in town saw profits grow.
2011: Christie rescues, construction wrecks
Early in the year, Gov. Christie incentivized Revel construction with $261 million in state tax dollars. The governmental support for the half-constructed casino drew a fair amount of criticism at the time and even more after the property failed.
The number of accidents and issues during Revel’s construction did not help the project’s cause. There were multiple injuries during construction. When finishing construction was going on in September of 2011, lightning struck three workers, killing one. A couple of weeks later, a worker landed in the hospital after falling off a ladder.
Financial and legal woes continued as well. At least a dozen contractors sued over unpaid work. Jokes and whispers swirled that this troubled property was cursed.
2010: Morgan Stanley pulls the plug
After investing over $1.2 billion in the project, Morgan Stanley pulled the plug after the Atlantic City economy tanked. In 2006, the city was taking in $5.6 billion in revenue. By 2009, that number was down to under $4 billion and revenue was the lowest the city had seen since 1997.
Morgan Stanley decided to end its involvement in the project and cut its losses. In the company’s first quarter earnings report, Morgan Stanley said it was taking a loss of $932 million on the project and divesting.
DeSanctis was not ready to throw in the towel, however. He appealed to a number of investors. Several firms made small investments. The biggest savior, though, would be new New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.
2006: DeSanctis has a dream
The plans for Revel Atlantic City started to come together over 25 years ago, but really gelled when Morgan Stanley purchased $70 million in Atlantic City property in 2006. The bank then put state trooper turned gambling official turned casino executive Kevin DeSanctis in charge of developing a new casino.
Prior to taking on his role with Revel, DeSanctis was best known for running Trump National and working with Steve Wynn.