Revel Atlantic City: Death, Delinquency, and Despair

A timeline of a $2.4 billion failure.


Revel Atlantic City has announced that it will close on September 10th, the final dose of bad news for a $2.4 billion property that has had virtually nothing but. Here, a timeline of the casino’s implosion.

May 2006: Wall Street firm Morgan Stanley pays $74 million for 20 acres of land abutting Showboat and plans to add Atlantic City’s 13th casino. “We are believers in Atlantic City and that the paradigm is changing,” a Morgan Stanley executive declared.

October 2006: Penn National Gaming COO Kevin DeSanctis, a Trump and Mohegan Sun casino alum, is tapped to helm the project, which may bear the Hard Rock brand. DeSanctis will form a company called Revel Entertainment.

September 2007: Revel Entertainment and Morgan Stanley file paperwork for the $1.5 to $2 billion casino project, a two-tower property with 3,800 rooms.

November 2007: Revel breaks ground.

July 2008: Pilot error leads to a plane crash that kills three Revel executives: the project manager for Revel’s construction company and two others.

January 2009: With the project about 50 percent complete, Revel is already running out of money and lays off hundreds of workers. DeSanctis announces that they will finish the exterior while trying to find money for the rest.

Spring 2010: Morgan Stanley says it won’t spend another billion on Revel to finish it and pulls out, accepting a $932 million loss. The Chinese are interested.

February 2011: New Jersey Governor Chris Christie announces that construction will proceed on Revel, adding that the state will kick in $261 million. But — and this is a huge but — that money would only come once Revel achieved certain financial milestones, milestones that would never be reached.

Christie said that Revel would play a major part in “the transformation of the city into what in my view it always should have been — a vacation and convention center for the world” and that it would lead to “an extremely important psychological shift for the city.”

The casino resort is downgraded from a two-tower project to a one-tower project and from 3,800 rooms to 1,100.

September 2011: Lightning strikes a cement pourer’s basket on the construction site, killing one worker and injuring two others. The company was criticized for not putting a temporary halt to construction out of respect. “Things have changed,” a pipe fitter told the Press of Atlantic City. “It used to be that they would have shut down the next day.”

March 2012: It is revealed that the utterly stupid white ball on top of Revel was designed by the son of the guy who played the Riddler character on TV’s Batman. Here’s what he told the Associated Press, explaining that the inspiration for the, um, design element came from eating a piece of pizza:

The foil my pizza was in was empty, so I crumpled it up into a tiny ball and was about to throw it away, when I held it up and looked at it lined up with the top of the casino, and then it hit me. A ball, by nature, is the universal symbol of fun. There’s a great visual tension; if you put a ball on the top of a slanted roof like we have, your eye senses that it’s about to fall off.

Meanwhile, Revel gets its gambling license.

April 2012: Revel opens.

May 2012: Philadelphia magazine pays a visit to Revel. And it was disastrous. Maroon 5 and Beyonce are brought in as live entertainment. In its first month in business, Revel’s casino won just $13 million from gamblers, among the lowest of all of Atlantic City’s casinos. It would never improve upon that ranking.

August 2012: Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s downgrade Revel after it posts a $35 million quarterly operating loss.

September 2012: An Easton man falls from a Revel escalator.

November 2012: The president of New Jersey’s state senate calls the Revel situation “dire.” He adds that Revel “appears to be burning cash at an alarming rate.” Revel says it’s bringing Kanye West in for three shows in December, which leads to our story, “Revel, From Bad to Abysmal: Not even Kanye West can save the Atlantic City casino.”

February 2013: Revel announces that it is $1 billion in debt and will be filing for bankruptcy.

March 2013: DeSanctis is jettisoned from the casino. It is revealed that he earned $8.3 million from the company in 2011. In a lawsuit, another man claims that he was flung from a Revel escalator.

April 2013: Two people are found dead in a Revel hotel room.

May 2013: Revel exits bankruptcy. 50 people get stuck in Revel elevators.

November 2013: A New Jersey couple sues Revel over a bizarre slots refund promotion that it had run over the summer.

February 2014: Video emerges of NFL player Ray Rice dragging his then-fiancee out of a Revel elevator.

June 2014: Revel declares bankruptcy again.

August 2014: Revel can’t find a qualified buyer and announces it will close in September.

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