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A Thought on Revel’s Closing….Bob Ambrose

A description of Revel in a recent article in the Press of Atlantic City called it: “The most spectacular and costly failure in Atlantic City’s 36 year old history of casino gambling…”

Revel will be a classic case study.  In weeks to come there will be countless articles about the 24 month life of what now is a $2 billion monument in the sand.

As you know projects like Revel are years in the making and financial climates change. The property opened with enormous debt and that along with its marketing module to be “different” just didn’t work. By the time it reinvented the module, it was too late. In reading some of the early interviews with property principals there was a level of business arrogance when discussing their philosophy of what they felt the AC market place needed at the time. And surprisingly their original module, minus some bad decisions can work in the right market.

Today under a signal umbrella of hospitality the new presentation of the casino operation is intermixed more with other venues such as dining, lodging, entertainment events and retail. Hmmm. Sounds like Revel.   

Creative resort property designs can create a simple setting of gaming tables or slot games outside of the main casino floor most anywhere on a property. The new casino floor design is about changing the boundaries of the casino customer experience to incorporate not only the operation of the casino but its relationship to the entire property.

The casino floor presents a competitive market balance.  Its presentation is displayed within an infrastructure of sophisticated technology woven together in an aesthetically  designed presentation of total property brand experience.

The days of just building a casino resort and the customer will come are over. This philosophy has morphed into the module of knowing the demographics of the market, identifying any niche marketing areas, understanding the competition in order to select the correct hospitality products for the market that also includes a casino. In the competitive congested, sometimes oversaturated market place (like the east coast) a company planning to open a resort needs more than a marketing strategy of telling the market place they are “different.”   

Today properties do need more than a casino to be profitable. But at the same time you cannot deny the casino exists as in the case of Revel’s early stage of operations. “After thoughts” of loyalty cards, comps, smoking and competitive pricing for amenities all came too late.

The idea of Revel was right. It just came at the wrong time and maybe in the wrong market.

A business ideology lives in a world of “perfect.” But the model is not that simple. Blue Ocean strategies do work with the right strategic initiatives.

Enough has happened in the past several decades with reference to the Atlantic City casino hotel market to learn from the past.

Revel is a lesson learned about market saturation, timing and competition.

Robert Ambrose is a Gaming & Hospitality Professor at the Center for Hospitality and Sport Management at Drexel University, Philadelphia. 

His experience includes commercial casino development and gaming operations at the executive level. After a successful career in casino operations; Bob joined Drexel as a Gaming/Hospitality Instructor. Professor Ambrose continually collaborates with industry professionals and reports on the industry about his research through publications, lectures and consulting.

Follow: @bobambrose