Atlantic City is going to be a very busy place on Thursday. Not one but two former casinos are slated to reopen just hours apart.
Ocean Resort Casino, formerly Revel, is slated to open its doors at 1 p.m. Thursday, June 28, two hours after the former Trump Taj Mahal officially becomes Hard Rock Atlantic City at 11 a.m. — giving the press the opportunity to hustle from one ribbon-cutting ceremony to the next.
This column will detail the history of Ocean Resort Casino, and what you can expect to find when the property reopens Thursday afternoon.
History of Ocean Resort Casino
Because of its tumultuous six-year history (first as Revel and then TEN) in the Atlantic City casino market, Ocean Resort Casino is far and away the more intriguing of the two casinos.
Calling the Revel a disaster is probably too kind.
If there was ever a use for the “hold my beer” meme it was the Revel. The project was ill-conceived from the start, and every subsequent decision seemed to be worse than the next.
Let’s build a multi-billion-dollar destination casino in Atlantic City, and let’s start the project at the beginning of the economic collapse of 2008.
We’ll make it super-high-end and ban smoking.
Don’t forget to ignore decades of successful casino design and build the lobby on the 11th floor with no direct casino access.
And wouldn’t it be cool if we built our own power plant? A power plant we can’t afford and will have to bring in a third-party company to finish.
All of that happened even though the Revel project was scaled back and the original investors (Morgan Stanley) jumped ship. As the casino moved along, Revel needed a $600 million bailout from the state of New Jersey to put the finishing touches on the project.
Revel eventually opened in 2012, declared bankruptcy in 2013, and again in 2014. The second bankruptcy led to the casino’s shutdown, and it was eventually sold at auction for pennies on the dollar to developer Glenn Straub.
The Glenn Straub era
Any hope that Straub would bring stability to Revel quickly went out the window.
Straub spent most of his three-year ownership of Revel spinning fairy tales about the property’s future, making promises he could never keep, fighting with regulators, and engaging in head-scratching behavior.
The only real progress Straub made toward reopening Revel during that time was a rebrand to TEN and the launch of a social online casino.
That said, Straub did manage to get the Revel out from under its burdensome power plant agreement.
Another name change
The Straub era mercilessly came to an end when he agreed to sell the property to Bruce Deifik in January.
Unlike Straub, Deifik made his intentions crystal clear — the property would be reopened as a hotel-casino.
TEN became Ocean Resort Casino, and a 2018 opening date was targeted. The goal was Memorial Day, but that proved a bit too lofty. Eventually, Ocean Resort settled on June 28, in time for the Fourth of July but also the same date as Hard Rock Atlantic City’s opening day.
What to expect at Ocean Resort Casino
Even though the property is less than decade old and cost a staggering $2.4 billion to build, Deifik pumped $175 million into renovations to correct the many mistakes the building’s original ownership made.
The goal is to keep all of the positive aspects of Revel and eliminate all the glaring issues that plagued the casino in its first go-round.
Gone are the smoking ban and the lobby escalator to the clouds. Also missing will be the posh attitude that turned off so many locals.
What visitors will find is a property with:
- 1,400 hotel rooms affiliated with Hyatt Hotel.
- 2,000 slots and 100 table games spread across a reconfigured 131,000-square-foot gaming floor.
- 13 dining options, including Cereal Town and multiple Chef Garces restaurants.
- Six pools and the Exhale Spa.
- Dozens of retail options.
- A 5,500 seat arena.
- A TopGolf Swing Suite.
Online casino and sports betting at Ocean Resort
Ocean Resort partnered with an online casino platform provider and has forecast a launch date of July 1, according to testimony during its casino license hearing.
The Ocean Resort online casino will be powered by GAN. GAN has experience in the New Jersey market, as it’s the platform provider for the very successful Betfair NJ online casino that operates under Golden Nugget’s license.
On the legal NJ sports betting front, Ocean Resort Atlantic City will debut with a temporary sportsbook, while it puts the finishing touches on a larger, centrally located sportsbook.
In May, Ocean Resort Casino announced William Hill US will operate its Atlantic City sportsbook.