GAN Announces Plans For New Ocean Resort Casino NJ Gambling Site In 2018

International online gambling operator GAN announced plans to open an online casino for Ocean Resort Casino, the former Revel, in the first half of 2018.

It seems like no sooner had the news broke that Ocean Resort Casino would open this year that international online casino giant GAN said they were launching ORC’s NJ online casino, too.

It’s certainly not shocking that an Atlantic City casino would operate an online casino. But the swiftness with which Ocean Resort Casino was announced and the resulting news about GAN will turn heads in AC. After all, Atlantic City was, just a few years ago, in dire financial straits.

In a press release about the company’s 2017 fiscal year, they noted their partnership with ORC’s new owner, AC Ocean Walk LLC. They also noted that the two parties will launch Ocean Resort’s online casino in the first half of this year. Ocean Resort Casino had once been Glenn Straub’s oft-discussed TEN AC, aka the former Revel.

“AC Ocean Walk LLC is the newly-announced owner-operator of Ocean Resort Casino for the launch of a real money regulated gaming online experience offering internet casino gaming together with internet sports betting integrated with the on-property rewards program in reliance on GAN’s Patent. This new Internet gaming destination is currently expected to launch in H1 2018 and will contribute materially to GAN’s revenue and earnings in H2 2018.”

Site and scope of online gaming not yet known

The GAN-operated OCR site will join 23 other sites in the NJ online gambling market. Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa has the most sites with eight, while Caesars boasts six sites.

GAN has yet to release the domain name they’ll use for ORC’s site. But history shows it will most likely include either the operator’s name (i.e. www.nj.partypoker.com, us.888.com, betfaircasino.com) or the casino’s name (i.e. borgatacasino.com, goldennuggestcasino.com).

One possibility is that they’ll incorporate the casino’s name into the URL to increase brand awareness. However, NJ online gamblers will surely be curious to try the new site.

While the type of games to be offered on the site are not known, one can expect the presence of a variety of slots and a few table games.

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GAN already active in PA and NJ online gambling scene

GAN certainly has recognition as a global operator but that doesn’t mean they’re out of touch with the US market. Among their operations are New Jersey’s betfaircasino.com and Parx Casino’s no-money gambling site. Parx Casino’s site will convert to real money in 2018.

Their NJ Betfair site has had quite the reputation over the past three months, producing three jackpots of $75,000 or more.

The presence of another online casino may also boost the state’s online gambling revenue, one that may eclipse $250 million in 2018.

Sports betting in the future?

Another crucial part of GAN’s second venture into Atlantic City online gambling is their partnership with sports betting firm SBTECH.

Announced earlier this month, the move is seen as a preparation for the outcome of New Jersey’s US Supreme Court case, in which they’re hoping to win an appeal that allows them to operate sports betting within state lines.

The Supreme Court’s decision is expected to come as early as spring of this year.

Not-So-Perfect TEN: The Story Of Atlantic City’s Revel Casino

The complete history of $2.4 billion Revel Casino in New Jersey, which was supposed to revolutionize gambling in Atlantic City, but went belly up.

Revel Casino was supposed to be a game-changer for Atlantic City.

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 kept those plans sidelined for over a year.

In 2017, the red tape continued to pile up. As Straub tells it, this is all the fault of Atlantic City bureaucracy, but by year’s end, Straub’s word would come to mean very little. With expenses and sale rumors piling up, Straub denied the property would change hands, but in January of 2018 he finally let go of his many dreams for what Revel could have been.

Instead, another group will reopen Revel, not as TEN, but as the much-less-memorable Ocean Resort Casino. There is a chance the casino’s future will be much brighter than the dull new name. However, it will be tough to overcome this building’s troubled past.

With that in mind, 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):

January 2018: TEN is dead, long live Ocean Resort Casino

After weeks of denials and inconclusive evidence, finally a release came out announcing a changing of the guard in early January. Of course, it was not Straub who authored the release. Instead, it was the new ownership, which goes by AC Ocean Walk.

It is unclear exactly who is part of the company. The public face of the company is Bruce Deifik, its chairman. While Deifik was happy to chat about the new venture, Straub remained atypically silent.

Deifik announced via release that the company plans to spend $175 million in remodeling and repairs on the property. Then it will ideally open this summer, right around the time the Hard Rock AC opens its doors.

Unlike Straub, AC Ocean Walk is keen to launch gambling at the grand opening. It is even already in the process of obtaining a gaming license. Once open, Ocean Resort will feature 138,000 square feet of gaming space. In anticipation of a favorable US Supreme Court decision in the NJ sports betting case, there are also plans for a brick-and-mortar sports book on property.

Additionally, GAN, the company behind TEN’s social casino, will be powering a real-money online casino offering bearing the Ocean Resort name. GAN currently operates Betfair’s real money software, so it will ideally be easily vetted by gaming officials.

The aim is to launch sometime in H1 of 2018. If they succeed, they may not beat Hard Rock to the Atlantic City opening day, but it will certainly beat the other new kid on the Boardwalk to the online punch.

Late 2017: The sale rumors start

As the year went on, the promise of more opening day deadlines stopped. In their place were rumor after rumor about who was going to buy the former Revel casino.

The first rumor came in July, when a New York-based firm claimed it made a $220 million offer to buy the property. Straub once again claimed there was no such offer on the table.

In September the firm, called Keating and Associates, resurfaced in the news, sweetening the pot by offering $225 million. Now, while the casino cost over $1 billion to build, Straub only paid $85 million to buy it. So, while the number may seem like a pittance, it was actually a pretty reasonable offer considering how little Straub comparatively put into the operation.

Straub denied again, so Keating took its money elsewhere. Not too far elsewhere though. The group elected to purchase the property next door. The lot was originally designed to be a complementary high rise complex to go with Revel, called Revel Beach. In November, Keating bought the development rights, and plan to build a high rise with condos and retail.

Meanwhile, the sales rumors for Revel continued, except they started to hold a little more weight. Thanks to a paper trail, the Press of Atlantic City uncovered a sale agreement from a Denver-based firm in early October. Despite the paperwork, Straub still insisted he had not sold the property. However, he started to indicate he could be bought for the right price, which is a definite change of heart from his previous tunes.

In November, more paperwork surfaced, making a sale to the Denver company seem all the more certain. Still Straub said no. While he opened the door for anyone who wanted to show up with a checkbook to make an offer, he insisted he had not accepted any offer as of yet.

Which brings us to year’s end. It seems the sale is all but a done deal. If true, the casino could open for the first time in nearly four years this summer. What remains to be seen is if and when Glenn Straub will acknowledge his tumultuous relationship with TEN is finally over.

June 2017: TEN does not open

June 15 was not a day for celebration. There was no new casino on the Boardwalk as promised. Instead, the state put a lien on the property after Straub failed to pay proper taxes. With over $1 million in maintenance going into the property every month and legal fees piling up, it sure seemed like now was the time for Straub to sell.

Spring 2017: Another promise, even more skeptics

Even though Straub claimed the casino was 24 hours from opening, the property sat virtually untouched throughout the spring. With no observable progress, the number of vocal critics of TEN started to grow in number and celebrity.

Gov. Chris Christie went so far as to use his New Jersey radio show to harshly tell Straub to get out of the casino business and sell immediately.

Rather than heed Christie’s advice, Straub elected to announce a new opening date instead. He confidently said TEN would open on June 15.

March 2017: No real TEN, but virtual TEN goes live

The TEN property stayed shuttered while Straub continued to pile up permit problems. In typical Straub fashion, the blame rested entirely with the city, not with the TEN staff.

Interestingly enough, Straub allegedly had the chance at an out. Before Hard Rock elected to buy Taj Mahal, the group allegedly looked at TEN. In a move that become signature Straub by the end of 2017, he denied that there were ever any real discussions about selling the property.

This time around, one thing did seem to back up Straub’s insistance he was moving forward with TEN. The company, despite having no brick and mortar presence in New Jersey, launched an online casino.

Granted, this casino was only a social one, but the framework did seem to indicate TEN was trying to become a player in the real-money online casino space.

Feb. 2017: In a surprise to no one, TEN does not open on schedule

From the beginning, the President’s Day Weekend opening date was a lofty goal. However, Straub and company did not even come close to meeting it. In fact, local officials claimed to send the casino the proper paperwork to get permits in order, but said no one ever sent anything back.

Meanwhile, even though it was obvious the casino would not be opening, the casino did not announce any change in plans. Feb 20 came and went with no fanfare and, more importantly, no new casino.

In the aftermath, Straub told a much different story than the helpful department heads. He claimed bureaucracy in Atlantic City stopped the site’s progress. He went on to say were it not for a lack of liquor licenses, the property would have opened. While he was ready to open without a casino, he decided against opening a casino with no liquor. Straub said once he got the licenses, TEN could open in just 24 hours.

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.

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.

The summer came and went with no developments. Feuds over permits continued to delay developments.

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.

Image by anjan58 / CC BY-NC-ND

The Wait is Over: Revel/TEN AC Sold And Reactions To New Ocean Resort Casino Are Varied

The former Revel, aka TEN AC, is being renamed Ocean Resort Casino by a Colorado-based developer and reactions to the Atlantic City casino news are varied.

“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.

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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:

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:

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:

And, finally, Wayne Parry, another Press of Atlantic City reporter who frequents the casino beat, expressed optimism as well:

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.

What We Know So Far About Ocean Resort Casino, AKA The Reopening Of Former Revel AC

The former Revel Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City — aka TEN AC — is officially sold and will reopen this year under a new name: Ocean Casino Resort.

The former Revel Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City — aka TEN AC for a brief time — is officially sold and will reopen this year under a new name: Ocean Resort Casino.

Here’s what we know so far about the old/new resort coming to AC.

Here comes Ocean Resort Casino, the former Revel

Most of what we know about the former Revel — now Ocean Resort — comes from a press release from the purchasing company. The former owner — Glenn Straub — did finally confirm that the sale was happening, despite months of denying it.

The purchasing company — AC Ocean Walk — bought the shuttered resort for $200 million. Straub bought the company out of bankruptcy for less than half that in 2015. The casino had been open only briefly before that after being built for a price tag of more than $2 billion. The resort plans to employ more than 2,500 people.

“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. 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,” said Bruce Deifik, chairman of AC Ocean Walk, told the Press of Atlantic City.

When will Ocean Resort open?

The company said it plans to reopen the resort in “summer 2018.” 

That’s obviously a large swath of time. Earlier reports had a possible opening in May, but that’s an aggressive timeline based on how much the new owners are planning to do to get the resort up and running. Investor documents earlier showed plans for $175 million dedicated to changes and improvements.

While May is possible, June or July might be more likely. There’s definitely going to be a race between Ocean Resort and Hard Rock — which is renovating the former Trump Taj Mahal — to be the first to reopen.

Will you be able to gamble at Ocean Resort?

Seeing as “casino” is in its name, that seems to be a given. When Straub was trying to reopen Revel, it was not clear gambling would take place.

But Ocean Resort will have 138,000 square feet of gaming space, according to new ownership. There will be 100 table games and 2,200 slot machines.

There are also plans already afoot for opening a sportsbook, as well, which would happen if New Jersey wins its US Supreme Court case to have legal sports betting.

So, yes, you’re definitely going to be able to gamble there.

Will Ocean Resort have online gambling?

There’s no word on whether Ocean Resort will join the NJ online gambling industry. But it seems like a safe bet eventually.

Even though it would be a late entrant to the market — online gambling has been around since 2013 in the state — there’s no reason why the new casino couldn’t get involved now. The market has continued to expand in recent years, and new brands and approaches to the online casino and poker space have succeeded.

It’s possible the online casino market is nearing saturation, but Ocean Resort could certainly get a piece of the pie. It’s even possible an online casino could come before the physical casino, based on how quickly the new owners appear to be moving.

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What else will Ocean Resort have?

Here are some of the other numbers on Ocean Resort:

  • 1,399 rooms
  • 165,000 square feet in meeting and convention space
  • 5,700-seat concert hall with space for potential future expansion
  • 7,700 parking spaces

Also from the owner:

“It is our mission and vision to fully serve the customer base of Atlantic City. In that regard, we are working to bring back some of the restaurants that were successful at the property and we have worked diligently to create some specialized new venues including a top Asian noodle bar and a high end players club. Our investment in this property will make certain there is something for everyone at the Ocean,” Deifik said.

Image credit: Jon Bilous / Shutterstock.com

The Latest Sign That Revel/TEN In Atlantic City Is Actually Sold

There’s now more evidence that owner Glenn Straub has sold his interest in the shuttered casino resort — the former Revel/TEN — in Atlantic City.

We got some more tea leaves to read in the ongoing saga of Atlantic City’s Revel/TEN.

There’s now more evidence that owner Glenn Straub has sold his interest in the shuttered casino resort, although that evidence still falls short of full confirmation.

What we know about Revel/TEN

At the tail-end of 2017, we started seeing rumblings that the former Revel had been sold. If the sale is actually happening, it’s one of the more cloak-and-dagger transactions in the history of Atlantic City.

No one seems to be publicly admitting it or talking about it, and Straub has continued to insist he hasn’t sold the property.

But the apparent buyer of Revel/TEN — AC Ocean Walk LLC — appears to have take even more steps. Here’s the latest from the blog Route 40:

[Denver-based developer Bruce] Deifik registered a new company as a “casino hotel resort” in New Jersey and, through that new company, agreed to a mortgage on the former Revel property with the investment bank JPMorgan Chase.

Route 40 learned that the new business is called ACOWRE LLC by finding its business registration (here). That all comes as Moody’s assigned a credit rating to Ocean Walk last month.

So, is Revel/TEN really reopening?

The Moody’s report referenced above talks about a May 2018 reopening for the property.

Of course, since we don’t even have an official timeline for the sale of Revel/TEN — and it’s now January — May seems like an aggressive timeline. The Moody’s report suggests that the “new owners will invest another $175 million” in the property. That’s a lot of renovation and changes to Revel/TEN to make happen in a few short months.

The casino resort’s website says it is scheduled to open in 2018. However, the site also said that it would open in 2017 throughout last year.

So despite the latest movement, it’s not at all clear how quickly Revel/TEN will be open for business once again.\

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Optimism is up in AC

Even though we still don’t really know what’s going to happen with Revel/TEN, there are lots of reasons for AC to be optimistic.

Hard Rock AC (the former Trump Taj Mahal) will almost certainly open its doors this summer. That will mean more jobs for a town trying to shake free of the state takeover, and more people in AC during the busy summer months. The Stockton University Gateway project is also slated to wrap up this year.

Through it all, the status of Revel/TEN remains one of the stories to watch in NJ gambling in 2018.

Image credit: James Kirkikis / Shutterstock.com

NJ’s Revel Casino Saga Continues: Sold Maybe, To Re-Open In 2018 Maybe

The Revel Casino may be set to re-open in AC after a $175 million re-fit. A new NJ casino license application implies that it is now owned by AC Beachfront.

The Revel Casino looks to be in the process of being sold, according to a credit rating given to AC Ocean Walk LLC by rating agency Moody’s.

The note released late last week describes loans being made to Ocean Walk, with the purpose of buying and re-opening Revel as a casino.

Moody’s states:

“Proceeds from the proposed term loans along with $125 million of common equity will finance the acquisition of AC Ocean Walk ($200M) (formerly known as Revel Atlantic City), and provide funds for pre-opening ($56M) and renovations costs (including gaming chips, cage cash, and consumable inventories) ($68M), an interest reserve ($25M), working capital and fees and expenses of the transaction ($26M).”

Ocean Walk is (or was) owned by Glenn Straub who used it as a corporate vehicle to buy the Revel from a bankruptcy court in April 2015. He paid $82 million — a considerable discount on the $2.4 billion that was previously invested in Revel by a consortium of banks and real estate investors.

AC Ocean Walk LLC and Polo North Country Club Inc filed a notice of settlement for the sale of the property in October, but since then Straub has denied that he is selling the property.

As of Monday, Dec. 11, the PressofAtlanticCity.com failed to find any record of a sale transaction at Atlantic County Clerk’s Office.

According to Moody’s, Ocean Walk’s parent is AC Beachfront, LLC, which will be guaranteeing “the term loans and revolver.”

The deal to re-open the Revel Casino looks serious

On Tuesday, Dec. 12, the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) revealed that Bruce Deifik, who apparently now controls AC Ocean Walk LLC, as the head of Beachfront, filed for a casino licence in October, paying the non-refundable up-front $100,000 licence fee.

Deifik has so far made no public comments on the matter.

The corporate details are confusing, but the bottom line is that Moody’s has been asked to provide a credit rating for the money being used to buy the Revel, and the DGE has been asked by to provide a NJ casino licence.

That should be enough for New Jersey residents to have hope that the Revel Casino may well be re-opening early next year.

The new Revel Casino faces heavy competition

Moody’s analysis includes the statement that:

“The property is expected to slowly capture its fair share of the market given the quality of the property — (originally opened in 2012), breadth of project offerings and a revamped operating strategy aligned with the demands of patrons in the market.”

Moody’s notes that the Revel won’t be the only casino to open in 2018.

The former Trump Taj Mahal is expected to re-open in summer 2018 as The Hard Rock Casino & Hotel Atlantic City. Following a $375 million overhaul the casino aims to be a family-friendly destination.

Moody’s says that the new owners of the Revel Casino acknowledge the additional competition that will “result in above average promotional and marketing spend and slow the time it takes the property to ramp-up operations and attain its fair share.”

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Good news for former casino employees and patrons

The prospect of two new casinos opening in AC in 2018 can be seen as nothing but good news for many of the former employees of the Taj Mahal and Revel who lost their jobs when their employers entered into bankruptcy.

The additional choice available to casino patrons, especially of modern refurbished establishments, will also be welcome.

However, existing casinos cannot be expected to ignore the competition. They, with the support of a public campaign, fought off plans for new casinos to be opened in North Jersey. The November 2016 referendum overwhelmingly opposed the plans, which would have added more pressure to the Atlantic City casino market.

New competition from the Hard Rock and Revel means that AC casino marketing directors have not been given much time to enjoy the victory. Frenzied defence of market share looks to be on the agenda for 2018 — players can expect even more New Jersey casino offers and upgraded facilities.