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What went wrong with Revel?

Tuesday marks the end of the line for Revel Casino Hotel, Atlantic City’s newest gaming hall. According to industry experts, the multibillion dollar project was doomed from the start.

The Revel casino goes dark in Atlantic City
The Revel casino goes dark in Atlantic City (Ilya Hemlin, Townsquare Media NJ)

Opened in 2012, Revel was promoted as a resort destination that offered “another level” of amenities and options for everyone from the casual daytripper to the business traveler. It was a conscious decision, meanwhile, to limit marketing of the property’s slots and table games as a way to prove Revel was more than just a casino.

Roger Gros, publisher of Global Gaming Business Magazine, said treating the casino as “an afterthought” was a mistake, and the design of the building didn’t help.

“You couldn’t even travel from your hotel room – down to the casino without getting off the elevator and taking an escalator down, or another elevator,” Gros said. “It was very inconvenient for customers to get to.”

Given a wide array of already-proven casinos in the area, as well as the aftermath of the global capital crunch, Gros said Revel should have changed its entire strategy prior to opening. Revel’s failure to offer enticing gaming promotions, Gros said, along with its initial smoking ban, turned off the gamblers Revel needed to survive.

New faces of management eventually led to a 180-degree marketing turn for Revel when “Gamblers Wanted” became the casino-hotel’s primary slogan. The property aggressively went after players with a “100 percent cash back” slots promotion, but the offer’s cumbersome fine print repelled more people than it attracted.

Most frequent Atlantic City visitors, Gros added, need solid convincing to switch their loyalty to another casino.

Dr. Israel Posner, head of the Lloyd D. Levenson Institute of Gaming Hospitality & Tourism at Stockton College, suggested Revel never had a legit chance to reach the success that was envisioned.

“Maybe it wasn’t to be, given that it was 2012, and not 2004, (2005 or 2006),” Posner said.

Describing Revel as one of the most magnificent structures built on the East Coast in the last decade, Posner said the possibilities for the building are endless.

“I could imagine some commercial, some residential, some retail, some entertainment,” he said. “I don’t think you need to think casino-hotel or even condo-timeshare.”







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