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After just over two years, Revel closes its doors in Atlantic City

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Revel is one of three casinos that will close by Sept. 16.
Revel is one of three casinos that will close by Sept. 16. - (AARON HOUSTON)

When it opened back in 2012, Atlantic City's Revel proudly boasted a 150,000-square-foot casino floor.

But on its deathbed Tuesday morning, just minutes before the $2.4 billion casino’s scheduled 5 a.m. closing, the sprawling carpeted floor was largely reduced to just two table games and the occasional slots player.

One dealer, having informed the players at her roulette table that the next spin of the wheel would be the casino’s last, likened herself to someone else also celebrating a farewell tour.

“I’m like Derek Jeter right now,” the dealer joked right before the final spin.

It came up 23. Some won and others lost, but everyone had to go home.

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Despite being Atlantic City’s newest casino, Revel sang its swan song this morning after failing to attract any qualified bids in a bankruptcy auction last month. For Revel, which never turned a profit, its most recent bankruptcy filing was the second in as many years.

The closure also hits Atlantic City at a particularly vulnerable time as it follows the shuttering of Showboat, which closed Sunday after 27 years on the boardwalk, and precedes the anticipated closing of Trump Plaza on Sept. 16.

Collectively between the three casinos, roughly 6,000 workers are expected to lose their jobs.

For Wendell White, a former slots supervisor at Revel who worked to help open the casino, that day had already come well in advance of Labor Day weekend. White, who has 30-plus years of experience in the city’s gaming industry, was part of a series of financially-motivated layoffs that Revel announced back in July.

Yet on Tuesday morning, as the loudspeaker bellowed out timely closing reminders, White was back, sitting amongst a dozen or so other former employees that had worked to open Revel.

The group, gathered in an area on the casino floor, had assembled in a showing of solidarity for one another and planned to exit the building together at closing time.

“Regardless of the fact that I was let go over a month ago, I still believe in the property and hope that somebody will buy it and come back and be able to continue my career,” White, an Egg Harbor City resident, said.

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Having spent 29 years alone at Bally’s, being part of Revel’s opening and closing is a “little difficult” to stomach, White said.

“It’s disappointing because, although most of us would agree that the marketing strategy might not have been the best in the beginning, it’s a beautiful facility,” White said. “It’s the best in Atlantic City.”

Still, White is hopeful that there’s a future for Revel.

“It just needs the right people to run it,” White said.

Also hoping for new management is Philadelphia resident Terry Roach, a regular at Revel since its opening who came to join the group of workers because, to her, “they’re family.”

“We all decided that we were all coming in to meet and we were all going to walk out together because we walked in together,” Roach said. “And when it reopens, we will all walk in together again, as one big happy family.”

Roach, who is quick to note that she is “seven minutes from one casino and seven miles from another” in Philadelphia, added that she and her husband will still come to Atlantic City to gamble at other casinos, but Revel will always feel like “home.”

That falls in line with a report published last week by Fitch Ratings, which estimates that the majority of gaming revenues from the three closed or scheduled-to-close casinos will stay within the Atlantic City market. According to Fitch, the city’s remaining casinos will retain roughly 50 percent of gaming revenue from Revel, more than 60 percent from Trump Plaza and 75 percent from Showboat.

Fitch also noted in its report that no other casino closures are projected within the next 24 months, adding that “weaker casinos should benefit from the more rational supply in the city.”

While that might sound like the bright spot on what is otherwise a very dark day for Atlantic City, not everyone’s hopeful that better days are ahead.

Abraham Candy, an Atlantic City resident who has operated one of the boardwalk’s iconic rolling chairs for the last two years, was parked outside of Revel searching for customers on Monday night.

Discussing his anticipated loss of customers at Revel, Candy shook his head.

“Especially when they have events, like shows or concerns, I always come here at night,” Candy said. “Especially on Friday, Saturday nights. Those are the busier nights.”

With Revel, the farthest casino north on the boardwalk, and its neighbor Showboat both going dark in the same weekend, Candy’s boardwalk just got a lot smaller. And when fares depend on it, that’s not a good thing.

“It’s a lot shorter and we’re going to make a little amount of money,” Candy said.

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Andrew George

Andrew George

Andrew George covers the Statehouse from NJBIZ's Trenton bureau. Born and raised in N.J., Andrew has also spent time as a reporter in D.C., Texas and Pa. His email is andrewg@njbiz.com and he is @AndrGeorge on Twitter.

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