Atlantic City’s Revel Casino Sold to Denver Developer, Will Reopen as Ocean Resort Casino
Is it possible that Atlantic City is in the midst of a revival, and doing so without changing its name to Bitcoin Atlantic City? This week, Denver’s Bruce Deifik confirmed that he has purchased the Revel casino via AC OCEAN WALK, a company owned and operated by Deifik’s real estate development company, Integrated Properties. The Revel has been closed since September 2014, a year which saw four Atlantic City casinos shut down. Deifik bought Revel for $200 million.
The history of the Revel can be summed up simply with the phrase “shit show.” It was to be a gleaming, mirrored gambling heaven to rival the Borgata. A luxury resort to eclipse them all. Construction began in the late ‘aughts, but throughout the $2.4 billion project, Revel Entertainment Group, ran into serious financial issues in trying to foot the bill, so construction halted and restarted on multiple occasions, the scale of the casino was scaled back, and people lots boatloads of money before the place even opened.
Revel finally opened on April 2, 2012, but it consistently hemorrhaged money and after second stint through bankruptcy, closed on September 2, 2014, after only about two and a half years in operation. The Revel was put on the auction block and received one bid – from Polo North Country Club’s Glen Straub for $90 million – by the September 23rd deadline. The auction was then delayed for a week, angering Straub, who believed his bid was used as a “stalking horse,” or one that is used to set the bidding floor for other potential buyers.
Straub ended up increasing his bid to $95.4 million, but Revel went with a second offer, a $110 million bid from Brookfield US Holdings, which came in the middle of the night on September 30th. Straub flipped out, ranting in court that his life was put at risk because he didn’t expect to be away from home for so long, so he didn’t bring all of the medications he needed (yeah, I know).
In November, though, Brookfield backed out of the deal because of a deal Revel had previously made with its power plant next door. As was par for the course, Revel ran out of money when building the plant, so ACR Energy Partners took it over, financing $158 million of the construction. In return, Revel agreed to use ACR as its energy supplier and pay ACR back for the construction costs over 20 years. Brookfield wanted to redo this deal, but the bondholders said no, so Brookfield walked away.
As a result, in January 2015, a bankruptcy judge approved the sale of the Revel to Straub. But it wasn’t done there. The Revel had tenants that had invested millions of dollars into their businesses, but the bankruptcy court ruling that allowed Straub to buy the casino also allowed him to cancel any leases if he wanted. The tenants appealed, as if they were booted, all their investment would be for nothing. An appeals court reversed the decision and then when Straub asked bankruptcy court Judge Gloria Burns for an extension in order to rework a deal for the Revel, she denied him and thus the sale was no more.
Finally, in April 2015, Straub was able to re-enter talks with Revel and did come to an agreement to acquire the property for $82 million. $82 million for a casino that originally cost $2.4 billion. All sorts of other controversy and bullshit occurred throughout 2015, including disputes with ACR and Straub’s firing of the staff that maintained the still-closed property. In January 2016, Straub successfully bought the power plant from ACR.
In June 2016, Straub announced that he planned to re-open the Revel with a small casino amid a host of amenities like a water park, movie theaters, a skydiving course, and even a helipad for gambling whales to conveniently fly back and forth to the casino. He renamed the Revel TEN Atlantic City in September 2017 and said it would reopen in January 2017, but it never did.
And so, now the Revel or TEN or whatever it is called, is out from under the thumb of Glen Straub and in the hands of Bruce Deifik and his company. He plans to open it this summer with a new name, Ocean Resort Casino. And it sounds like he may actually be a decent owner, if his recent statements are any indication.
“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,” he said. “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 thanked New Jersey and Atlantic City for “their hospitality, thoughtfulness and professionalism” and promised to repay the same courtesy to the people in the area. Deifik then added:
The former Revel property opened at a time when Atlantic City was still in economic recovery and operationally it just did not cater to the customer base for this destination. However, given the extraordinary quality and investment made during its development, the new ‘Ocean’ will represent one of the finest hotel, casino properties in existence today in an improving market that has demonstrated strength and resilience.
Deifik said that if and when sports betting becomes legal in New Jersey, Ocean will have a “state of the art” sports book. He also wants to bring back some of restaurants that had seen success at Revel and will add several new options.
“On a personal note, this is a dream come true,” he concluded. “Without the support of my family, who saw my vision and belief in Atlantic City as a market in resurgence, today would never have happened and therefore, I am truly grateful to them.”
As mentioned, Revel was one of four casinos that closed in Atlantic City in 2014 as the city saw gambling dollars going to neighboring states. The Trump Taj Mahal closed in 2016, leaving just seven casinos in Atlantic City. The Taj was purchased by the Seminole Tribe of Florida last year and is scheduled to reopen this year as Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City. With Ocean reopening as well, it looks like Atlantic City may be making a comeback.