Inside Atlantic City’s brand-new Ocean Resort Casino Hotel

BY Brenda Flanagan, Senior Correspondent |

Sixteen days to go and Atlantic City’s Ocean Resort Casino Hotel is racing to get ready. Two thousand slot machines stand in easy-to-use groups, as workmen tinker with roulette tables. Dead center on the casino’s 138,000 square foot floor, a brand-new sports betting parlor takes shape, and will open for wagers when the casino goes live June 28.

“This is the heart of our casino. This will create amazing energy. There’s nothing better than seeing a lively group cheering on their favorite team. The casino is supposed to be a fun, vibrant, exciting environment and often times the sportsbook is the heart of that excitement. I think that Atlantic City will benefit greatly from having that added experience to all of its casino resorts,” said advisor Seth Schorr.

Schorr took reporters on a preview tour of the former Revel casino which closed in 2014 after two bankruptcies. Ocean Resort’s CEO aims to fix Revel’s biggest mistake by targeting families instead of catering exclusively to high rollers.

“Ocean Resort is a family-owned business. The Deifik family created a truly family environment here, which is something that not only didn’t exist at Revel, but really doesn’t exist in the casino resort industry today,” Schorr said.

An attraction called The Den will feature esports, including skill-based slots and arcades. One thousand four hundred refurbished hotel rooms offer killer views, but day trippers will be able to dine at affordable buffets. It will permit smoking on 25 percent of the casino floor.

“So we created a much more diverse offering, so that everybody, depending on what their budget is or what their taste is at that moment, can come here and enjoy the facility,” Schorr said.

The casino will still offer high rollers special benefits, and a big, new spa will draw customers. New signage and virtual kiosks will help customers navigate what used to be a confusing layout, and live ambassadors will offer assistance.

“We are going to be walking around, and if any of the customers have any questions and want to talk to us and they say, what events do you have going on today? We’re going to have all that information,” said Joelle Rothman, an employee at the casino.

Ocean Resorts will hire 3,200 staffers, many are training now. Atlantic County’s unemployment rate has dropped from 7.2 to 6 percent just since March.

“It’s been very tough. I’ve been out of work since Taj closed, pretty much. I haven’t had a full-time job, so we’re just all happy that we’re working,” said employee Lisa Hankin.

“It was like, thank you God. I was like, thank you, amen,” said employee Quran Dabney.

The Deifiks invested $200 million to buy this iconic property and another $150 million to renovate it. It’ll open as Atlantic City’s ninth casino, three hours after Hard Rock, the former Taj Mahal.

Meanwhile, other casinos are scrambling for the sports betting market. In fact, Borgata could be the first Atlantic City casino to take bets at its RaceBook parlor, as soon as it gets licensed by the Division of Gaming Enforcement. Schorr says, all casinos will benefit.

“We’re about Atlantic City. We’re about growing the market. We’re about reminding the world, and certainly the northeast, that Atlantic City is here,” Schorr said.

Ocean Resort scheduled its so-called soft open for June 25 and 26. That’s when the casinos will have practice play. It opens for real bets on June 28 at 3 p.m.