Was The Revel Casino’s Design Its Fatal Flaw?

Development, East, News, Newsletter
Monday, August 18, 2014
The Revel Casino. (Courtesy Revel)

The Revel Casino. (Courtesy Revel)

Two years ago, AN visited the newly-opened Revel Casino in Atlantic City. At the time, the glassy $2.4 billion complex, designed by Arquitectonica and BLT Architects, was expected to be a transformative property for the iconic boardwalk that offered gambling, convention space, and entertainment. “It’s more of an urban development plan than a typical casino plan,” Revel CEO Kevin DeSanctis told AN. “I am really hoping that we are successful.” In mid-August, we learned that they were not. In its short two-and-a-half year lifespan, the casino never turned a profit.

The Revel Casino. (Courtesy Revel)

The Revel Casino. (Courtesy Revel)

The casino’s parent company recently  announced that they weren’t able to find a buyer for the bankrupt complex and that Revel’s last day would be September 10th. That date has already been moved up—the hotel will now close on September 1st, Labor Day. The casino will close the day after, which will put over 3,000 people out of work.

Revel’s huge cost, and its very short lifespan, has unsurprisingly received lots of attention, but its closing is just the latest sign of trouble in Atlantic City—the Showboat will close on August 31st, Trump Plaza calls it quits on September 16th, and the Atlantic Club shuttered in January.

These closings reflect Atlantic City’s challenge to stay relevant amongst more competition. The Philadelphia Inquirer recently noted that Atlantic City, which had been the nation’s second-largest gambling market ranking just behind Nevada, has now fallen behind Pennsylvania.

But in terms of Revel, specifically, its design may have been its fatal flaw. “The enormous cost of the property, its vast size and its peculiar configuration—patrons had to ride a steep escalator from the lobby to get to the casino, the 57-story hotel and the restaurants—made it difficult to turn a profit,” reported the New York Times. These sentiments were echoed by industry experts who spoke to the Inquirer in June. They mentioned the “long distance between the casino floor and the hotel’s front desk, a casino floor that fails to engage gamblers, and vast empty spaces that make Revel expensive to heat and cool.”

And Alan R. Woinski, chief executive of Gaming USA Corp, pulled no punches when describing his thoughts on the property. “The best thing that could have happened to that property is Hurricane Sandy, instead of nailing Seaside Heights, would have nailed that property. That thing should have wound up in the ocean instead of the roller coaster,” he told the publication. “It’s sad, but unfortunately that was the only way, to completely knock the thing down and redo it.”

The Revel Casino. (Courtesy Revel)

The Revel Casino. (Courtesy Revel)

3 Responses to “Was The Revel Casino’s Design Its Fatal Flaw?”

  1. Joseph says:

    I’m not surprised. I’ve been there; the demographic they were trying to attract, the millennial gambler, or something, has no taste for this kind of gaudy, inward-facing stuff. As a cohort, we want to be engaged in a place, not boxed up inside a fortress. I assume they never, ever thought about that.

  2. Gerald says:

    “Attractive Nothingness”- did not have the opportunity to go in. Perhaps this is representative of the death knell of the present Atlantic City. Gone is the exciting vehicular approach on the White Horse and Black Horse Pikes where the rich architectural landscape of buildings appeared suddenly as a prelude to the oncoming beach and boardwalk experience with the shops and games where people could wander in and out and the Piers with there activities. Now there is lifelessness on the boardwalk with people going to and fro with nothing to look at and participate in. Had not been to Atlantic City for years and only spent a day. Very sad. I hope Atlantic City will now have an opportunity to breathe get its life back.

  3. John J. Delibos says:

    Having never visited Revel, I can only read what has been written of the fatal flaws that rang its death knell. Having worked on The Borgata Hotel, Casino and Spa project in Atlantic City and participated in its opening festivities that hosted such entertainment luminaries both in attendance and performing there as: Emma Sams, Joshua Bell and Josh Grobin, I can only say that when CEO Robert Boughner guides a project to fruition, it is not only magnificent but practical. From the first shovelful of dirt turned in The Marina District to the hanging of the last Dale Chihuly chandelier, he left no gaming chip unturned in “the relentless pursuit of perfection”.

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