After an emotional two-day hearing, the Casino Control Commission granted Ocean Resort Casino a license just 7 days before the Boardwalk property is slated to open its doors to the public on June 28 at 1pm.
The former Revel, which after declaring Chapter 11 bankruptcy for the second time, closed in September 2014, was acquired by Colorado developer, Bruce Deifik’s AC Ocean Walk LLC, for $200 million on January 4, 2018. Glenn Straub’s Polo North Country Club purchased the property located on 20 acres for $90 million, a fraction of the cost of construction, but after multiple delays, the casino never opened to the public, and in January of this year, the sale to Deifik was announced.
The Press of Atlantic City reports Deifik communicated that the journey had been an arduous one and that to finally receive a license for the 6.3 million sq ft property was a “dream come true for myself and my entire family.”
The licensure did, however, come with 26 conditions, which address the Atlantic City resort casino’s financial resources along with its relationship with lender, JPMorgan Chase. Division of Gaming Enforcement state regulators want to ensure the property isn’t subject to the same financial challenges that were the undoing of Revel.
Commissioner, Alisa Cooper, communicated that in advance of the hearing that lasted two days, she had “very serious concerns” and that based on the multitude of recommendations, the feeling was mutual by the Division of Gaming Enforcement. Cooper did, however, go on to say that “after listening to the very extensive, and personal, testimony of the past two days, my concerns have been eased,” as reported by the news agency.
Deifik, along with Alan Greenstein, the chief financial officer for the property, testified on the first day of the hearing on their vision for the casino hotel, changes made to the Boardwalk property and the group’s finances. While on the second and final day of the hearing, the property’s Chief Executive Officer, Frank Leone, testified in regard to the casino resort’s marketing strategy to attract and maintain guests.
Leone, who reportedly assured the commission that they are “going to speak loudly and clearly to the core casino audience,” said that smoking would be allowed at Ocean Resort. According to Leone’s testimony, not being able to smoke was identified by focus groups of past guests of Revel, as the number one complaint. He also said that the property would also offer single night stays, something that wasn’t possible at Revel, as well as a buffet and player rewards program. Leon reportedly said that the buffet would open late this year or early next year.
Other issues addressed in the almost $50 million in renovations are the Boardwalk wall, which impeded direct access to the casino and was replaced with a grand staircase, a reconfigured gaming floor and safety panels placed around the escalators.
Leon also assured the commission that Ocean Resort would be ready to open its doors to the public on June 28.
Deifik has also pledged to complete approximately 600 of the property’s 1,399 guestrooms that remain unfinished on 12 floors, according to the news agency.
Just shy of 2,000 slot machines will be housed on the 130,000 sq ft casino floor along with upwards of 100 gaming tables and eight poker tables. The center of the casino floor will feature a 7,500 sq ft sports book to be run by William Hill US, and while it won’t open immediately, Leone said that, on opening day, sports betting will be available at a temporary sports book until the permanent one is ready to go in approximately six weeks.
The property, along with partner GameAccount Network, has also applied for an internet gaming license and is expected to be on offer at the casino from July 1.
Opening the same day as Ocean Casino Resort is Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City. The former Trump Taj Mahal has undergone a $500 million renovation and received approval by the Casino Control Commission last month.