Wilkins, of Elmira, was among the throng that packed Revel on Monday for its "soft" opening. The preview period continues through May 24, a day before Revel's grand opening on Memorial Day weekend. The holiday will include three concerts by Beyoncé at the 5,050-seat Ovation Hall, one of Revel's two theaters.
"We're treating the opening of Revel as a Broadway play with an eight-week preview," said Kevin DeSanctis, Revel's chief executive.
DeSanctis shepherded the project for more than five years, through tragedy (key executives died in a plane crash in summer 2008) and financial difficulties. "Yeah, it feels good to be open," he said as he stood at the entrance facing the beach and greeted patrons.
About 200 people were waiting when Revel, on the northern end of the Boardwalk, opened its gaming floor at 7 a.m.
At the head of the line was Jerry Colonna, 28, of Mount Laurel, who works for a waste-management company. He arrived at 5 a.m. with friends Mike Demcovitz, 28, and Keith Groff, 33, both of Atlantic City, and Ryan Lichtner, 24, of Center City.
"I didn't want to be second," Colonna said.
Once inside, he got behind a $10-minimum roulette table and removed a wad of bills from his wallet. Within 15 minutes, he was up $1,500.
"This place will turn Atlantic City around," Colonna said as he scoped out the floor. "Look at it - it's beautiful. It's a 'wow.' On a scale of 1 to 10, it's a 12."
Contact Suzette Parmley at 856-779-3844 or firstname.lastname@example.org.