Revel was supposed to be the casino that saved Atlantic City. It was supposed to be glamorous, Vegas-like and superb. It was supposed to start a whole new renaissance in Atlantic city, but it failed, and failed miserably.
What caused this $2.2 billion dollar casino to implode to the point that it's about to go through bankruptcy a second time and may even close down? The answer could be, that it was doomed to fail from the start.
In 2011, Rob Thomas went on a job interview at Revel prior to its opening. The job was for a Senior Content Manager for their website. "The excitement was incredible" he said. "You just felt that this casino was going to be the very thing that brought Atlantic City back to life."
The first person he met was the recruiter who called him in the first place. "The recruiter was very nice and explained that this casino was going to be like no other. That this was going to be a new vacation spot for an 'untapped' market of 20 million people in the area" Rob said.
"I jokingly explained that Atlantic City has tapped those people since it first opened for gambling in the late 1970s, but the recruiter just laughed it off and said, not those people."
Rob then met with another man, presumably the person he would be reporting to. The man explained that he previously worked in the Atlantis, in the Bahamas and mentioned that most of the people employed at Revel have prior experience working in casinos around the world, but none of them ever really worked at an Atlantic City or Connecticut casino.
"This concerned me, because if you don't understand New Yorkers or people from New Jersey, you will not understand what drives them to want to come to Atlantic City" Rob said. "He seemed unfazed by the fact that I have been coming to Atlantic City for over 25 years with my family."
The man went on to explain further that Revel will not be looking to target regular slot players like Rob's mother, or regular poker players like his father. He said they are looking for people that will come to Atlantic City for a vacation, because as the man put it “when I go to the rooftop, I feel like it’s a vacation spot, like I am at the Caribbean. They will have an exclusive and expensive spa that people will enjoy like they are truly on vacation."
Rob found this problematic because people in the tri-state area come to Atlantic City for a day or two at most. "Many just come for one day and go home. Most would rather go to an expensive spa in New York than travel to Atlantic City for one" Rob said.
It’s no surprise that a year later, as they were about to go through their first bankruptcy, they all of a sudden started a “Gamblers Wanted” campaign, in an effort to bring gamblers back to the casino.
"The problem with that was, they were so focused on actually believing that New Yorkers would go to Revel for a vacation, just for the spa, that they made the casino uncomfortably small, unusually expensive and unsuitable for large crowds" Rob said. "They were just so naive and in denial from the start."
The other problem was the actual premise of the campaign to refund the money you spent on gambling. "Unfortunately, they never said the money would be refunded in Revel dollars over a period of time."
Fred Warner, a regular gambler who has been coming to Atlantic City for 20 years says the Revel’s casino just doesn’t work for him. “Even during the week, it’s impossible to get to a craps table, they only seem to have 2 open at a time, it is miserable, small and I am going to Borgata” he said. "When it comes to Revel and even Atlantic City itself, their only hope is to legalize sports betting."
Dina Sanders has been going to Atlantic City for 10 years, and regularly goes to Borgata, Taj Mahal and Revel.
“The Revel is just too big, too much space” she said. “It looks luxurious and beautiful, but you have to climb 8 floors to get to the lobby, then you go to your room, you put on high heels, go to the club and it's torturous just to walk there and back, and the casino part is just so small.”
With all of these faults in mind, it seems the very casino that was supposed to save Atlantic City, was doomed to fail from the start. And with gambling being offered in, and around most major cities in the United States, including Online, it seems nothing short of a miracle can save Atlantic City from impending disaster.