Ocean Resort Casino was granted a gaming license by the New Jersey Casino Control Commission Thursday, just one week ahead of its scheduled grand opening ceremony.The property occupies the site of the former Revel casino resort that was shuttered in 2014 after two years of operation.
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Following a two-day hearing, during which Ocean Resort Casino owners and executives presented their plans for the complex, members of the state casino regulator voted unanimously in favor of issuing the necessary license. The resort will thus be able to operate gambling services upon swinging its doors open next Thursday.
The former Revel’s new owner, Colorado-based businessman Bruce Deifik, testified during the hearing before the Casino Control Commission, which started Wednesday and extended into a second day. Mr. Deifik told casino officials that they believe they are capable of overcoming the negative impressions the previous operation had left in guests and visitors.
Unlike Revel, which focused on high-end customers, Ocean Resort Casino will be welcoming everyone. The property’s new management has decided to allow smoking and single-night stays, and will be offering different comps for customers. A wall that had previously blocked access to the casino floor from the Boardwalk has been demolished and replaced with a staircase that leads into the gaming floor.
Mr. Deifik further pointed out that they have learnt from mistakes made by Revel owners and that they will avoid these to draw both old customers and new ones.
Ocean Resort Casino, for which Mr. Deifik paid $200 million to buy from Florida businessman Glenn Straub and invested another $200 million to renovate, will celebrate its grand opening on June 28, the same day on which Hard Rock International will cut the ribbon on the remodeled former Trump Taj Mahal.
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Both opening ceremonies will be attended by New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy. Ocean Resort Casino will open doors at 1 pm local time and the state’s top official will be there to place the first sports bet at the casino floor’s sports book.
The resort has joined forces with British bookmaker William Hill to take advantage of the recently annulled federal ban on sports betting and the legalization of that type of gambling in New Jersey.
The reopening of two of Atlantic City’s Boardwalk casinos and the legalization of sports betting are hoped to give a major boost to the city’s gambling industry after years of struggles.
According to preliminary forecasts, Ocean Resort Casino could claim a 10% share of Atlantic City’s gaming market during its first year of operation and generate gaming revenue of around $292 million. Under the terms of its license, the property will have to always maintain liquidity of at least $36 million to make sure that it would avoid the fate of its predecessor, the $2.4-billion Revel that never managed to turn into a profitable casino resort, despite the ambitious plans pitched by its original owners, and closed doors just after two years of operation.