Revel Entertainment laid off 400 workers Wednesday and said it would stop interior work on the one new casino project in Atlantic City that hadn't yet fallen victim to the economic crisis and the credit crunch.
The $2 billion, ocean-themed casino is being built at the northern end of the
boardwalk, next to the Showboat Casino Hotel.
From its gently sloping contours, designed to appear sculpted by ocean waves, to plans for the first casino wedding chapel in Atlantic City, the project has been a symbol of hope for expanding the seaside gambling resort beyond its current 11 casinos as proposals by other companies for mega-casinos crumbled all around it.
Revel CEO Kevin DeSanctis said the company decided the best way to spend the cash it has on hand over the next 12 to 15 months was to continue working on the exterior while pursuing long-term financing.
"All along we had been hoping the credit crisis and the overall market conditions would improve," he said.
The company is committed to finishing the project, he added, even though its projected July 2010 opening date will be pushed back "a little bit."
The company had about 1,100 employees before the layoffs were announced.
The project, called simply "Revel," has been continuing despite a plane crash that killed three Revel executives in July.
The first phase of the project calls for a single tower with 1,800 to 1,900 rooms. When a second tower is built, that number would rise to 3,800 to 3,900 rooms.
It will offer 150,000 square feet of casino space and 500,000 square feet of dining, retail and entertainment space, including the chapel.
Other similarly ambitious casino projects announced around the same time as Revel's have already been placed on indefinite hold.
Pinnacle Entertainment's plan for a $1.5 billion to $2 billion casino with a beach house theme has been shelved and may never get built.
And a plan by MGM Mirage to build a $5 billion hotel-casino complex that would be the biggest Atlantic City has ever seen also has been halted because of the poor economy.
But neither of those projects put a shovel in the ground. Pinnacle imploded and hauled away the remains of the former Sands Casino Hotel, while MGM's site remains largely untouched.
Revel, by contrast, has built a good portion of its 46-story hotel tower, a parking garage and its glass exterior.