Two of the four Atlantic City casinos that shut down in 2014 are about to reopen but are going about it in very different ways.
Revel and the Showboat, next-door neighbors at the north end of the Boardwalk, recently announced they are reopening. Revel will have a hotel and a casino, albeit smaller than it had previously. Showboat is reopening as a non-gambling hotel. By mid-July, both should be up and running, although Revel’s casino will not be open until the end of August at the earliest.
The Showboat closed on Aug. 31, 2014. Owner Caesars Entertainment shut down the still-profitable Mardi Gras-themed casino to reduce competition for the three other casinos it owns in Atlantic City: Harrah’s, Caesars and Bally’s.
After a disastrous sale to Stockton University, and a failed effort to flip it to another casino owner, the Showboat was sold in January to Philadelphia developer Bart Blatstein, who last year bought and re-branded the former Pier Shops complex into The Playground. He plans to run the Showboat as a non-gambling resort hotel, with numerous attractions he has not yet announced.
Revel closed on Sept. 2, 2014, little more than two years after it opened at a cost of $2.4 billion, making it Atlantic City’s most spectacular casino flop. Florida developer Glenn Straub bought it last year from bankruptcy court for $82 million, or about 5 cents on the dollar, and had to endure a seemingly endless stream of regulatory and legal setbacks before finally preparing to open the property.
Blatstein is doing all the traditional things to announce and prepare for the reopening of his property. He has hired a publicist, issued news releases and held a job fair at which 3,000 people sought one of the 200 or so jobs that were available.
Straub, on the other hand, is outsourcing most of the key functions of what was once Revel. He says a company he will not yet identify (because it is awaiting final regulatory approvals) will operate the casino and be responsible for the 900 hotel rooms that will be available by Wednesday.
Phil Hevener has been writing about the Nevada gaming business for more than 30 years. Email: [email protected].