There’s been a massive shake-up in Atlantic City’s casino industry this year. 2014 saw a fourth of New Jersey’s gambling destinations close their doors for good, and a probable fifth was expected the follow suit before we ring in the New Year. Revel Resorts did, in fact, close its doors in early September, but after the property was auctioned off earlier this week, the new owners announced that the property will restore operations in the very near future; which brings us to question whether a new online poker/casino partner is on the horizon.
If we take a step further back in time to 2013, it was obvious that Revel was having a hard time staying afloat. While most other casinos were busy making partnership deals with software vendors to establish online poker and casino gambling websites, Revel constantly declined to comment on any similar negotiations. As it turns out, the company was instead negotiating the viability of its future in New Jersey, and the prospects weren’t looking good.
At 6am on September 2nd, the 47-story resort and casino said a fond farewell to its visitors and officially shut down. Players with Revel Casino chips and slot vouchers were asked to redeem them prior to that date, or visit the Revel General Cashier Office before the end of the month. Any hotel reservations previously made post-dating September 1st were cancelled and automatically refunded. The Revel had officially entered into bankruptcy.
The future looked indubitably bleak for the massive $2.4 billion boardwalk casino, which had only been open for a year and a half (April 2, 2012). That is, until yesterday, when Brookfield Asset Management, a Canadian based company that already owns two major casinos in Las Vegas and the Bahamas, put in the winning bid of $110 million at auction.
“With our ownership of the Hard Rock in Las Vegas and the Atlantis Paradise Island in Bahamas, we have expertise underwriting and operating these types of multi-faceted assets,” explained Andrew Willis, a spokesman for the asset management group. “We anticipate material synergies between these three high-quality properties.”
The sale is not yet finalized, though. It must first be approved by a federal judge in a hearing slated for October 7th. And while everything seems to be in order – even the Revel’s debtors are overjoyed by the auction’s outcome – there is one person who will do everything in his power to stop Brookfield from obtaining the property.
Enter stage left, Glenn Straub. Mr. Straub is an affluent real estate developer from South Florida, and it was his bid of $94.5 million that was beaten out by yesterday’s $110 bid from Brookfield. Straub is adamant that the rules of the auction were breeched. He claims that Brookfield demanded that the auction be ended at 6:00am (5:00am ET) the following morning if no higher bid was placed, or else the bid of $110 would be withdrawn.
“We’re going to object on Tuesday in front of the court,” argued Straub, who intends to demand he be named the new owner of the hotel casino by Chief U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Gloria Burns on Tuesday. “You can’t put a condition on the bid; they changed the procedures. How do I get any accountants? How do I get anybody to review it? I will not bid again with this kind of crapshoot. They have to abide by procedures.”
Assuming that Brookfield does in fact take over as the new owner of Revel Atlantic City, the next anticipated event will be to see if the property aligns itself with an internet gambling software firm to present online poker and casino games in New Jersey. Under its previous ownership, financial limitations didn’t give them that option. But there are surely going to be some interested software brands keeping an eye on the situation. It’s assumed that PokerStars will stick with its original partner in Resorts Casino, but what of Rational Group’s other online poker giant, Full Tilt?
For the time being, only one thing is for certain. The local land-based and online poker/casino industry in New Jersey is sure to see even more changes before the year is out.