Christie's Gamble on Atlantic City Casino Coming Up Craps

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Monday, 07 Jul 2014 06:04 PM

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Atlantic City's newest casino, built with the help of $261 million in state tax credits — and hailed by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie as a "game-changer" when it opened in 2012 — could soon close if it doesn't find a buyer.

Twice-bankrupt Revel, a 70-story, glass-encased structure built for $2.4 billion, isn't expected to attract more than a few hundred million at auction Aug. 6, USA Today reports. 

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Its workers were told if no buyer is found by Aug. 18, the casino will closed Sept. 1, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. 

Revel's dismal prospects come three years into Christie's last-ditch, five-year revival plan for the iconic beach resort, where casino revenues have been down almost every month for the past eight years, USA Today reports.

The resort's fading fortunes can be blamed on a glut of casinos, the reports note. Just in the Northeast, 26 casinos have opened in the last decade, including a dozen in Pennsylvania, the Inquirer reports. A 27th opens in Baltimore in early August.

In Atlantic City, two other big casino-resorts are already doomed; Atlantic Club closed in January, and Showboat is set to shutter next month, the reports say.

Christie's revitalization plan had aimed to use a state-run Tourism District to better police and spruce up the area around the casinos and the Boardwalk, and to try to attract more meetings, conventions and non-gaming tourists to fill rooms off-season and mid-week, USA Today noted.

Revel was supposed to be part of the new approach.

Yet a Christie spokesman insists the governor remains committed to the comeback plan.

"There have been signs of progress in Atlantic City, but challenges still remain," spokesman Kevin Roberts told the Inquirer. "The governor is committed to seeing the five-year period through."

With the spate of closures, Mayor Don Guardian — the first Republican to lead the city since 1990 — has asked the state for millions of dollars in state aid to balance next year's budget; each casino is a major taxpayer, contributing millions in property tax revenue for the city the Inquirer reports.

Things are unraveling quickly for Revel, the Inquirer reports; according to its last bankruptcy filing in late June, Revel is losing $2 million a week.

"It's a gaming town that's no longer a monopoly," Guardian has said, the Inquirer reports. "The market is going to determine how many casinos Atlantic City can have that can be successful.

"We don't know what that is."

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