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Inside Gaming: Revel Finally Sold, to Reopen as Ocean Resort Casino

Revel Casino Hotel
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  • The closed Revel casino at last finds a buyer, to reopen this summer as Ocean Resort Casino.

  • Vegas casino thefts, Penn National sues over new PA law, near-record month for Maryland casinos.

This week’s Inside Gaming starts with the announcement — finally! — of the sale of the closed Revel Casino in Atlantic City, with the new owners intending to reopen the property this summer. Also included are reports on recent thefts at Las Vegas casinos, a lawsuit against Pennsylvania’s new expanded gambling law, and recent revenue numbers for Maryland casinos.

Closed Revel Goes for $200M, To Reopen as Ocean Resort Casino This Summer

This week came another episode in the more than three-year-long saga of the Revel Casino Hotel in Atlantic City that closed in September 2014 just two-and-a-half years after its grand opening. The Press of Atlantic City reported on Tuesday that owner Glenn Straub has sold the property to the Colorado-based group AC Ocean Walk LLC who plan to reopen it this summer as Ocean Resort Casino.

If all goes according to schedule, the reopening will come shortly after the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City opens its doors on the site of the old Trump Taj Mahal in late May over the Memorial Day weekend.

The sale was for $200 million and confirms a report of AC Ocean Walk's interest in the purchase made public last month by Moody Investors Service, the news of which at the time prompted repeated denials from the property's mercurial owner Straub.

The Florida-based developer bought the $2.4 billion Revel in bankruptcy court for just $82 million in 2015. Straub then rebranded it as TEN the following year amid frequently revised announcements of plans to open that never quite materialized.

The Moody Investors Service report in December described the intentions of AC Ocean Walk and its leader Bruce Deifik to invest another $175 million renovating the property in advance of the summer opening.

"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," said Deifik this week who alluded as well to the Hard Rock opening and other growth soon coming to the city.

Atlantic City's new mayor Frank Gilliam who took office 10 days ago echoed that optimism, characterizing the news of Ocean Resort Casino's plans to open as being like "Christmas in January."

The new property will provide 138,000 square feet of gaming space, including 2,200 slot machines and a 100 table games. Plans are in place as well to add a sports book should the Supreme Court rule in favor of New Jersey's appeal of the federal prohibition against sports betting this spring. Deifik says he also intends to bring back previously successful Revel restaurants.

Of course, while the seven currently operating Boardwalk casinos have managed to enjoy a modest rebound in terms of revenue following the closure of four casinos in 2014 and the Trump Taj Mahal in 2016, adding two new properties might be difficult for the market to absorb, thus reintroducing stress into an industry still in recovery mode.

Such is the thinking of gaming analyst Colin Mansfield of Fitch Ratings, who told the Press of Atlantic City that while there exists "a healthy level of profitability when it comes to gross gaming revenues" and that currently the AC "market is in a good spot," he also thinks "the introduction of two properties is not great for Atlantic City."

Two More Robberies at Las Vegas Strip Casinos

Las Vegas police are currently searching for three people suspected of stealing chips Wednesday night from Harrah's Las Vegas Hotel and Casino, reports the Las Vegas Sun. Officials have released no further details from the robbery.

That theft comes just a day after another robbery at the New York New York. On Tuesday night a man armed with a handgun demanded cash at the casino cage and made off with an undisclosed amount of money.

In late November the poker cage at the Bellagio was robbed on a weekday afternoon at gunpoint by a man wearing a mask. The suspect remains at large.

Penn National Sues Over New Law Expanding Pennsylvania Gambing

As expected, on Tuesday Penn National Gaming Inc. sued the state over the recently-passed law allowing for numerous types of gambling expansion in the state, reports philly.com.

While the new law paves the way for current casino operators to obtain licenses to offer various online gambling games, the lawsuit more particularly objects to the provision allowing for the operation of 10 additional "satellite" casinos in the state.

The lawsuit filed in federal court states "that provisions allowing 10 more mini-casinos would cause 'significant and unique' harm to [Penn National's] suburban Harrisburg casino, Hollywood Casino."

We noted here back in October how Penn National was not at all happy about the new law. At the time Eric Schippers, senior VP of public affairs at Penn National, said the group was "beyond disappointed by the legislature's ill-conceived and hasty gaming expansion plan," indicating in particular its expected punitive effects upon Hollywood Casino.

Penn National maintains the law "violates its constitutional rights to equal protection and due process, as well as Pennsylvania's constitutional prohibitions over legislation that benefits a particular person or entity."

It's not the first lawsuit targeting the new bill. Las Vegas Sands has also filed one since it was signed into law by Governor Tom Wolf, and Penn National has filed a second suit as well.

Maryland Casinos Post Second-Best Month Ever

Revenue from Maryland's six casinos continues to increase, with the latest numbers showing a total of $141 million generated in December, reports The Baltimore Sun. That's the second-highest total for the state since opening its first casino in 2010, only barely missing eclipsing the record $141.2 million revenue in March 2017.

That near-record is thanks largely to MGM National Harbor's $56.5 million total, followed by Live Casino ($47.2 million) formerly known as Maryland Live!. Maryland Live! had been the state's largest casino before MGM National Harbor opened in December 2016, with the National passing Live in revenue last year.

MGM National Harbor was up significantly year-over-year (34.9 percent), although December 2016 was only a partial month for the property as it had just opened. The Rocky Gap Casino Resort was also up for the month (6.8 percent), while the other four casinos saw decreases from a year ago — Horseshoe Casino Baltimore (down 19.5 percent), Ocean Downs Casino (down 9 percent), Hollywood Casino Perryville (down 5.5 percent), and Live Maryland (down 1.7 percent).

Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

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