Atlantic City to Transform Shuttered Revel into Ocean Resort Casino: Will a New Poker Room Emerge?

The Revel Casino lost its poker room in August of 2013, a full year before the doomed property, which had once been deemed the future for chic gaming in Atlantic City, shut its doors for good in September 2014.

Revel poker room

The former Revel (soon to be Ocean Resort) once had a gorgeous poker room. Can a fresh start revive another Atlantic City live poker room? (Image: bankrollmob.com)

Now a new property is scheduled for a fast track opening this summer. Can the Ocean Resort Casino, which the venue recently sold by real estate developer Glen Straub is to be called, bring back another live poker room to the resort gambling city?

Troubled History

When it opened on April 2, 2012 on the northernmost edge of Atlantic City’s famed Boardwalk, Revel established itself as the tallest structure in the city. It was a 150,000-square-foot gaming complex that featured two nightclubs, 13 restaurants, two live entertainment venues, and 1,399 hotel rooms. And, of course, the aforementioned poker room.

Optimists hoped Revel would rejuvenate AC’s struggling gaming market, some even speculating that it could lead to big things for poker. Little did anyone know, the property wouldn’t last long.

In August 2013, Revel closed its poker room, and a little over a year later the hotel, resort, and casino closed permanently, the third Atlantic City property to do so in 2014. After its closure, the property and its future sat unused for several years as bankers and developers figured out what to do.

Earlier this month, Bloomberg reported that the Denver-based AC OCEAN WALK, led by investor Bruce Deifik, was buying the Revel for $200 million, a steal considering it cost $2.4 billion to build.

The rebranding of the former Revel, which was the casino in which NFL running back Ray Rice was infamously caught on camera punching his fiancée, will bring 2,500 new jobs to the city.

The property’s relaunch is set to include a “best in market” sports book, but there’s been no mention either way of a poker room. AC OCEAN WALK has already applied for a casino license with the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement.

“It’s like having Christmas in January,” said Atlantic City mayor Frank Gilliam. “This is a sign to the market that Atlantic City is well on her way back the prominence that she once had.”

What About Straub?

Glenn Straub (Image: Vernon Ogrodnek)

During the limbo years, Revel was sold to Florida-based developer Glenn Straub for $82 million in bankruptcy court. He intended to rebrand and reopen the venue himself, but it never came to fruition, and he reportedly shelled out $1 million a month to keep the building up and running.

For months, Straub had denied rumors of a sale, but he confirmed last week that the deal with AC OCEAN WALK had closed on January 4. He added that while he never intended to flip the Revel, what he referred to as the state’s anti-business climate, which he blamed on outgoing Governor Chris Christie, inspired him to make the deal.

Under his company Polo North Country Club, Straub now hopes to turn his attention to the South Inlet section of Atlantic City. The billionaire, who is friends with former AC casino owner Donald Trump, hopes to be named the area’s redeveloper by the city, but Council President Marty Small doesn’t see that happening.

“We are not going to name anyone,” Small told the Press of Atlantic City. “If people are interested in development in the city, they are going to have to go through a process. It has nothing to do with Glenn Straub.”

But Small did note he was appreciative of what Straub has done for Atlantic City.

“We thank Glenn for buying Revel and preventing it from becoming an eyesore,” he said. “If he is still interested in Atlantic City, we are interested in him.

In addition to the Ocean Resort Casino, Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City is expected to open this summer in the former Trump Taj Mahal property.

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