Grim Revel-ation: Casino may close this summer

Posted: June 20, 2014

WHAT WAS supposed to be the crown jewel in Atlantic City's glittering gaming empire is in danger of becoming its biggest failure.

A mere 26 months after its opening, the $2.4 billion Revel Casino Hotel stands on the brink of shutting down after its employees were notified that the sprawling adult playpen could close before the end of the summer if a buyer is not found.

In a letter, Revel honchos told workers that if the property "is unable to complete such a sale promptly, Revel expects to close its entire facility" as early as Aug. 18. The warning came as lawyers filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy for the second time in as many years, and the company received an emergency $125 million loan from an unnamed co-owner to keep the doors open the next two months.

In a statement released to the media, Revel president and chief operating officer Scott Kreeger said: "Today's announcement follows an extensive strategic review. 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."

But Revel has been on the market virtually since it opened amid great fanfare in April 2012, and serious suitors have been few and far between.

The Seminole Indian tribe of South Florida, which has hit the jackpot with its chain of Hard Rock Cafe-themed casino-hotels, has been prominently mentioned as a possible buyer, but has balked at the price tag, reportedly in the $300 million range.

Local 54 of the Unite HERE union, which represents thousands of AyCee casino workers and has been organizing at Revel, recently put the complex's value at between $23 million and $75 million, based on public filings by Revel.

When conceived about a decade ago - while Atlantic City still had a monopoly on gambling in the mid-Atlantic states, Revel was to be an opulent pleasure palace that featured gaming as an amenity, rather than its focus.

But Revel seemed doomed after casinos became legal in Pennsylvania and other nearby states, and after the crippling recession. It didn't help that the original management team decided to forego such standard casino strategies as having a multitiered reward-card system, private high-roller lounge, a buffet and smoking.

- The Associated Press contributed to this report.


On Twitter: @chuckdarrow

Blog: philly.com/Casinotes

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