(Updates with news on canceled U.S. Bankruptcy Court hearing
and analyst comment, paragraphs 12-16.)
By Daniel Kelley
ATLANTIC CITY, N.J., Sept 2 Shortly before
sunrise on Tuesday, Morgan Capezzera reclined on the roulette
table at the Revel Casino in her bikini and snapped a selfie
before the Atlantic City gambling hall shut its doors for good.
"I love Revel," said Capezzera, 30, of Toms River, New
Jersey, who spent most of the day at the casino. "I lost, but I
She was one of few fans who came out for the closing night
of a two-year-old casino once heralded by Governor Chris
Christie as a new model for the down-on-its-luck New Jersey
shore gambling hub.
The $2.4 billion project this year went into bankruptcy for
the second time in its short history and is one of four Atlantic
City casinos to announce that it would shut its doors this year,
taking a heavy toll on the budget in a city where the property
tax base is expected to fall to $10 billion by 2015, less than
half its 2010 level.
Revel closed with a whimper during the Labor Day holiday
weekend, its final gasps coming from the bar, where staff sold
opened bottles of liquor to the last customers for $5.
Its 57-story hotel was dark on Monday, and by the evening
waiters at some of the independently owned restaurants that had
stayed open greeted diners by reciting the list of dishes that
were no longer available.
Management had advertised a 5 a.m. closing time intended to
give gamblers time to cash out before the doors closed an hour
later. But with just a dozen people, the roulette and blackjack
tables remained open till almost 6 a.m. Meanwhile, state
troopers patrolled the floor to guard against vandalism, which
had marred the closing of the Atlantic Club earlier this year.
"I thought everyone and their mother would be here," said
Sara Pully, 29, of Bergenfield, New Jersey. "It's the last
Laureen Dunn, 60, a blackjack and roulette dealer, said many
of the casino's employees took advantage of unused vacation time
rather than work the final night. She chose to work a shift that
ended at 3 a.m.
"I wanted to earn income until the last minute," Dunn said.
"What can you do with six months' unemployment?"
A GREAT DEAL?
Revel, which employed 3,100 at its peak, was the third
Atlantic City casino to close this year. Its nearest neighbor,
the Showboat, closed on Sunday. A fourth casino, the Trump
Plaza, is scheduled to close Sept. 16.
Just hours after the casino closed, parent company Revel AC
Inc canceled a U.S. Bankruptcy Court hearing scheduled for
The company said in a filing with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court
in Camden, New Jersey, that it canceled the hearing after
reaching agreements with landlords, a slot machine company and
financial creditors, among others. Creditors had objected to
Revel's proposal for obtaining financing needed until it finds a
buyer for the casino complex.
One corporate turnaround specialist said management will
likely be willing to wait a few months to get the best price for
the property, which will still be well short of the $2.4 billion
it cost to build.
David Berliner of BDO Consulting in New York said Revel has
advantages, including an oceanfront location and recent closures
of other hotels in the city, removing some competition.
"Someone's going to get a great deal," he said.
The downturn in Atlantic City has been driven, in part, by
competition from casinos in nearby states including New York,
Pennsylvania and Connecticut.
Gaming revenue for Atlantic City, which once held a
lucrative East Coast gambling monopoly, has dropped to $2.8
billion from its 2006 peak of $5.2 billion, according to state
The Revel project ran into trouble soon after construction
began. Initial backer Morgan Stanley walked away in 2010
mid-construction, taking a $1.2 billion loss, and the casino
opened two years behind its original schedule.
Early plans to build two hotel towers, each with 1,900
rooms, were scrapped in favor of one 1,400-room hotel. Public
spaces, however, were scaled to a 3,800-room property, and the
gaming floors often felt empty.
Revel AC has said it lost roughly $2 million per week, even
at the peak of the busy summer season.
Revel's designers hoped to lure a younger crowd with Las
Vegas-style elan by offering hip nightclubs, rooftop gardens,
swimming pools and high-end restaurants.
The strategy emphasized entertainment over gaming, and it
remained on display to the end. Thousands of revelers spent
Monday partying at the hotel's Revel HQ Beach Club as DJ's
played thumping dance music that could be heard for blocks.
But as the party ended, most revelers headed back to their
cars, on a path that did not even take them to the same floor as
(Additional reporty by Tom Hals; Editing by Scott Malone and