By Michael Hill
Farook Hossain serves food at Revel Resorts. He wonders how he would support his family if Revel closes Sept. 10.
“It’s very hard. What to do, Maybe stay, move, looking for other job. There are no jobs out there. This is the casino city,” Hossain said.
Hossain was among the casino workers outside the Atlantic City Country Club telling the governor his Sept. 8 summit is too late to save jobs here. The governor was here to fund-raise for a congressman.
“Everybody looking to him, to help us, to take care of us, keeping our job,” Hossain said.
As Revel’s Sept. 10 closure looms, some businesses within Revel want answers. Their attorney has asked the bankruptcy court for an immediate hearing, accusing Revel of sending “mixed messages” and choosing to “shroud their sale process in secrecy.”
Revel’s lawyers told the bankruptcy court they’re “working with several potential bidders” and “require more time.”
“Some people have stepped forward and said they’d be willing to buy at 10 cents on the dollar. So obviosuly the banks aren’t ready to accept that low of an offer,” said Sal Scheri, president of White Sand Gaming.
Scheri owns White Sand Gaming, a casino and resort consulting firm. He says Revel devoted 95 percent of its floor space to non-gaming activities in a gaming mecca.
But, even in that small gaming space, New Yorkers Robert and Shana found almost no one gambling and decided they wouldn’t either.
“You’re like let me take my money elsewhere, it’s good vibes,” said a woman on the boardwalk.
“There’s a lot of missed opportunity here. People don’t think of coming to AC when they think about vacation. They do think about it when it comes to gaming,” Scheri said.
Scheri says AC may be a declining market but there’s still money to be made here. According to the latest numbers released by the state, the Borgata made just over $60 million last month. Scheri believes Revel can succeed too, saying it needs a new buyer, smarter marketing and a better grasp of the changing industry. He blames increased out-of-state competition and mis-timing the market for Revel’s doomsday scenario.
“I think it’s an example of a good idea and bad timing. And back in a strong market, good ideas were sill OK. But in a tough market like we’re in now, you really need a great idea and this wasn’t necessarily a great idea. It really needed to be a casino first, not a resort,” said Scheri.
Amid all the speculation about Revel and a buyer comes another dire prediction for AC. This one by Deutsche Bank, predicting that Atlantic City now with 11 casinos, will only be six by 2017 and revenues will fall by more than a third.
“It’s contracting because of a broad competitive market place in this region. But it’s still the centerpiece of the mid-atlantic region. There’s nothing like this around,” said Israel Posner of Stockton College.
The Atlantic City Alliance is trying to re-brand Atlantic City. It paid for full-page ads in The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal to attract non-gaming tourists. It was the annual air show that brought Alice Arch and Don Candelori to Atlantic City.
“It was just amazing,” Candelori said.
But for now, Revel and two other casinos with looming closure dates own the headlines in Atlantic City.