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.

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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.

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Three Potential Suitors If Glenn Straub Ever Decides To Break Up With TEN

Since it seems like the latest rumored sale of TEN casino seems to have stalled, we look at some potential buyers who could stand to own the NJ property.

It certainly seemed like someone was buying TEN from Glenn Straub at last. Of course, the last time that happened, it was a false alarm.

This time around, there was more concrete paperwork suggesting a sale was already done. However, now a month has passed with no news. Moreover, once again, Straub denied anyone actually talked to him.

This sale looks increasingly uncertain. The previous potential buyer bought the building next door. Oh, and Straub still does not have a gaming license either.

With that in mind, it is time to start thinking about who could benefit from buying the shuttered casino resort. While there are questions about just how valuable the property is, these people and companies certainly have reason to at least consider the acquisition.

Caesars and MGM

Earlier this year, Caesars and MGM Resorts announced plans to partner together for a large casino resort project. When the companies announced plans, it seemed like the obvious spot for such a property would be the space between Caesars Enertainment’s Harrah’s Atlantic City and MGM’s Borgata.

Both properties are off the Atlantic City Boardwalk. It makes sense to try and build up that marina area of Atlantic City with a third property connecting the two. Additionally, a property between the two properties could make the pedestrian-unfriendly area much more walkable.

However, MGM currently does not have a presence on the Boardwalk, while Caesars does well with the tandem of Ballys and Caesars Atlantic City. Being able to cut down on overhead by not building from scratch makes Revel an option worth at least considering.

Another upside to buying Revel instead of building something new? Keeping a new competitor out of the market and keeping the number of operational casinos down.

Carl Icahn

Many assume Straub’s long-term goal wth TEN is to flip it. He bought it for a fraction of its original cost in 2015. But with millions a month going into upkeep on the unopen resort, his profit margin just gets smaller and smaller.

Now, if there is a man who knows how to profitably flip a casino property, it is Tropicana owner Carl Icahn. Granted, his recent track record with the Trump Atlantic City casinos was not exactly problem-free.

Nonetheless, Icahn is one who frequently buys and sells casino properties. For example, he was the one who profited off Hard Rock International’s purchase of the Trump Taj Mahal earlier this year. He also sold an unfinished casino highrise in Las Vegas, Nevada for $600 million this year. That is rouhgly four times what he paid for it.

Unlike Straub, Icahn has both casino experience and a gaming license. In other words, if the real king of the casino flips got ahold of Revel, he could operate it until a bidder offering a sweet enough deal comes along, rather than shelling out piles of money on upkeep of a closed piece of property.

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Rush Street Gaming

This last candidate is certainly more far-fetched than the other names on our list, but hear us out. Certainly Rush Street Gaming would be undertaking a massive land-based casino if it tried to take over Revel.

There are parts of the plan that might make it worth the risk though. Currently, Rush Street’s SugarHouse Casino in Philadelphia already has a foothold ino online casinos in New Jersey, operating under Golden Nugget’s gaming license. It will also have both SugarHouse and Rivers Casino Pittsburgh ready to take advantage of Pennsylvania online gambling when it launches there.

Rivers Casino Schenectady, the company’s latest addition in upstate New York, is underperforming revenue expectations so far, however, it is arguably faring better than the larger and nicer del Lago Casino.

With casino presences in Pennsylvania and New York, the company has the potential to be a major player in the increasingly competitive East Coast casino market. However, with a New Jersey offering, they could improve the company’s position. With a rewards program linking all three states, the company could bring something to the table other companies like Caesars and MGM can’t, which is a presence in all three states.

Which Will Open First: Hard Rock Atlantic City Or TEN/Revel?

In one corner, we have the former Trump Taj Mahal. In the other, we have the shuttered TEN, formerly Revel. Which New Jersey casino will reopen sooner?

In one corner, we have the former Trump Taj Mahal. In the other, we have the shuttered TEN, formerly Revel.

Which Atlantic City resort will reopen first? Our oddsmakers have been handicapping this showdown of closed casinos in NJ.

Hard Rock AC: Summer of 2018?

By all accounts, the former Trump Taj Mahal will open in the middle of next year. Hard Rock International bought the shuttered casino resort earlier this year, after it closed its doors in the fall of 2016. The company immediately revealed its plans to turn the Taj into an inviting and up-to-date resort, much like its other destination properties.

While the schedule can obviously suffer setbacks — it already has — the project has a lot going for it in terms of opening quickly.

  • Hard Rock is experienced with getting resorts up and running. It has set its intentions, and it’s unlikely to miss the mark by much, unless it encounters serious problems.
  • It’s not like Hard Rock was reinventing the wheel when it bought the Taj. The structure was already sound; it just needed a remodel and to be brought up to speed with the Hard Rock brand and feel.
  • If Hard Rock wants to open in 2018 it really ought to do it for peak season; otherwise, it would probably have just made more sense to take its time and wait for early 2019.

So we have a pretty good idea of when Hard Rock will open. But we have far less insight about what’s going on down the Boardwalk.

TEN/Revel: Who knows?

The drawn-out saga that is TEN — formerly Revel — is pretty well-known already.

The gleaming AC property built for billions closed down soon after it was built. While the property was bought for pennies on the dollar soon thereafter, it’s sat vacant ever since.

But of late, there has been a lot of chatter that current owner Glenn Straub would be selling to a new company, one that might actually think about reopening TEN. In November, there were signs that a sale was moving forward, although that has not yet been confirmed.

If a sale actually did happen, TEN/Revel — or whatever the new owners call the resort — would also likely be able to open quickly. The property doesn’t need much — if anything — in the way of remodeling. The big needs would be branding and staffing.

But counting TEN as actually being sold is still a dicey matter. And the longer it takes for the sale to go through, the longer it is until a prospective opening.

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Conclusion: Put your money on Hard Rock

If we had a completed sale of TEN on the horizon, it would be a favorite to beat Hard Rock to an official opening. But given the backstory of the troubled resort, we definitely can’t count on anything until it’s out of Straub’s hands.

That’s why the stable, international company with definitive plans is the current heavy favorite to open up its NJ casino first.

What Makes Us Think Revel Needs A Second Chance?

The list of suitors for the former Revel Casino in New Jersey is long, but is there as much value in the closed Atlantic City casino as they might think?

Everyone, Glenn Straub included, sees value in the shuttered Revel Casino. Straub still claims to be reopening it as TEN…someday. Meanwhile, numerous other groups claim they are buying the property.

But here’s a question: Are we sure Revel is such a safe bet?

After all, the casino tried and failed once already. You may argue that Atlantic City is on the rebound. True, it is in a much better economic place than it was in 2014.

However, with so many casino projects in the works, it is time to worry about over-saturation. As Atlantic City learned before, sometimes there is such a thing as too much of a good thing.

There is such a thing as too many NJ casinos

Let’s start with the positive news. Atlantic City is on the economic rebound. In 2016, overall casino revenue was up 1.5 percent over the previous year. It was the first revenue increase for the industry in a decade.

So far, 2017 is faring even better. Thanks, in part, to big numbers from the NJ online gambling sites, revenue is up once again. Now that business is back to booming, several groups are trying to get into the market.

Another major draw? The possibility New Jersey could get into the sports betting business if its Supreme Court case goes its way.

However, history shows us there is a threshold of how many casinos the city can sustain. Currently, there are seven casinos operating in the city. Just a few years ago, that number was higher.

Since 2014, the following properties shut their doors:

  • Showboat
  • Trump Plaza
  • Trump Taj Mahal
  • Atlantic Club
  • Revel

Of those, four closed in 2014, while Trump Taj Mahal closed just over a year ago. It is no coincidence that just over two years after the market lost roughly one-third of its casinos, the remaining operators began to bounce back.

Atlantic City’s position is arguably getting worse, not better

With increased competition in places like Philadelphia, upstate New York, and casinos about to open in Massachusetts, Atlantic City simply does not have an East Coast casino monopoly anymore.

In fact, with its limited airport access and the new gambling expansion plan underway in Pennsylvania, its position is arguably getting worse, not better. What New Jersey does have working in its favor is a seasoned online casino market, which now comprises roughly 10 percent of all NJ casino revenue.

Still, companies are clamoring to get in. Hard Rock International purchased Taj Mahal. The company plans to reopen the casino this summer.

Showboat reopened without a casino element, which is a possibility the Atlantic Club considered as well. Several other companies, Straub’s included, intend on pursuing a casino, however.

In addition to Revel, there is also a forthcoming project from Caesars and MGM Resorts. There is also a new tower project in the works from a company which, after failing to buy Revel, bought the plot next door.

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Luxury casino resorts struggle in New Jersey

As mentioned, sports betting will certainly bring a boost to the industry should it pan out. While most predict a victory for New Jersey, that is not a done deal yet. Even if it is, that does not necessarily provide enough evidence that Revel could succeed a second time around.

Currently, Borgata is the closest thing the city has to a Vegas-style, high-end resort casino. If Revel learned anything its first time around, it is that there is not as big a market for that as it initially thought.

Atlantic City is a regional casino location with an increasing amount of competition. The NJ online casino market consists of people who live in or near New Jersey. With that type of clientele, Atlantic City serves more as a place to gamble as opposed to a place to go on a luxury vacation.

The struggle of high-end New York casinos only lends credence to the idea that what works in Las Vegas is not how to succeed on the East Coast. Casinos certainly need to be nice, but catering to the boutique clientele of an Aria Casino or Cosmopolitan could result in TEN suffering the same fate as its predecessor.

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If You Can’t Have Revel, You Might As Well Settle

The New York firm that tried to buy Revel for $225 million instead bought the rights to develop the Atlantic City plot next to the closed New Jersey casino.

A couple of months ago, Keating and Associates tried to make Glenn Straub an offer he couldn’t refuse. Thing is, he did.

The New York investment group offered Straub $225 million for the shuttered TEN Casino (formerly Revel). Rather, it said it did. Straub denies any knowledge of the group attempting to buy the New Jersey casino.

Now a new report from Press of Atlantic City suggests the firm is looking elsewhere. Not too far elsewhere, though. The new lot the group is eyeing is TEN’s next-door neighbor.

Keating has development rights for beachfront plot

Per Press of Atlantic City, the group obtained the development rights for Metropolitan at Revel Beach. Back before Revel closed its doors, the area was zoned for a 30-story condominium complex. The plan was to build a tower with 124 condo units adjacent to what was supposed to be the town’s hot new casino.

In addition to condominiums, the plot can also be used for retail spaces. It has the potential for both beach and Boardwalk access. The valuation of the plot is $8 million.

As part of the deal, Keating now has the exclusive right to buy the property in full from the current land owner, Lazocean LP.

“We see such a bright future for this end of the Boardwalk,”said Jeffery Keating, co-chairman of Keating and Associates. “There are some really exciting days ahead, and we feel really blessed to be a part of the future of Atlantic City.”

The group already hopes to change the original plans for the lot. It hopes to meet with city officials soon and obtain permission to expand the project to a 40- or 50-story tower.

Firm seemed dead set on buying a casino in New Jersey

Before news of this deal broke, Keating’s name popped up in a neighboring state. Just last month the firm issued a statement claiming it was evaluating Sands Bethlehem Casino in Pennsylvania for purchase. Sands representatives denied any sale. The property was in the news earlier this year when a potential sale to MGM Resorts fell apart.

The question for Keating now is whether this tower is going to become another casino or if the firm still aims to acquire TEN.

The market in Atlantic City is very different than when Revel closed. Several struggling casinos closed their doors, resulting in a bounce back for the city. However, many in the business fear the new projects on the docket like Hard Rock, TEN, and a project from Borgata and Caesars would oversaturate the market.

Should Keating throw their casino in the ring, that makes four new casinos after five shuttered over the past four years.

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And where is Glenn Straub in all of this?

Meanwhile, Straub continues to deny anything is going on at or around his property. Last week he dismissed a story claiming a Colorado firm filed paperwork to purchase the property. Once again, he even denied knowing who they were.

Straub is an outspoken character who does not seem to take much care with his words. However, given these latest developments, it is worth thinking about why he would continue to deny any sort of sale rumors.

Given Straub’s refusal to obtain a gambling license and limited casino experience, it certainly seems like this is the casino version of real estate flipping. Buy a property at rock-bottom price, wait for the Atlantic City economy to turn around, then sell for a profit.

As of now, Straub spends seven figures a month on upkeep of the closed property. The $225 million offer from Keating might not be rich enough of a profit for him, however.

Straub purchased Revel in 2015 for $85 million. The cost of building the casino came in at $2.4 billion. That is a steep discount, but factoring in nearly three years of upkeep cost, the profit margin is rather thin, especially compared to the casinos initial value.

He could be waiting for a better offer, but he better take care. The window for people wanting to get back in to Atlantic City might start closing once this competing casinos open their doors back up. And if he intends to open a casino after all? Well, he is about to get some new competition next door.

Image credit: John Arehart /