The hype continues to mount for the April 2 soft launch of the Revel Resort & Casino, the first new gaming joint to open in Atlantic City since the Borgata in 2003. Not content to merely push the envelope with cutting-edge server-based slots technology, the Revel is attracting attention for its other unique selling points – many of which run contrary to nearly a century’s worth of hidebound casino design. For one, the entire joint is smoke free. Second, the Revel has windows that look out onto the Atlantic Ocean. That’s right – the outside world is visible from the casino floor. Good lord… Next, you’ll be telling us the joint has actual clocks on the walls.
Once the Revel passes its eight-week ‘preview” period, the venue will mark its official debut with a three-show booking of none other than Beyoncé. It will be the pop superstar’s first public outing since she, er, outed baby girl Blue Ivy in January. Tickets for the May 25-27 shows go on sale April 6. Of course, not everyone is buying into the hype that Revel will bring anything more than a temporary boost to AC’s overall fortunes. In neighboring Pennsylvania, whose casinos have stolen much of AC’s thunder over the past couple years, Philly Post writer Paul Davies said “Beyoncé could live at the Revel and it wouldn’t save Atlantic City.”
Snarky writers aren’t the only ones bearish on the Revel’s ability to revive AC’s fortunes. Moody’s analyst Keith Foley reminded Bloomberg that the Borgata’s 2003 opening “benefited Borgata and that’s it.” Worse, Fitch Ratings analyst Michael Paladino said both Revel and Borgata “are competing for the same high-end customer.” Royal Bank of Canada analyst John Kempf echoed these concerns. “There’s too much capacity in Atlantic City now. Borgata could take a significant hit here.” The Borgata has consistently been the top gaming revenue earner among AC’s 11 casinos, but being the brightest kid in a class full of dunces doesn’t mean much outside that bubble. According to Bank of America Merrill Lynch data, Borgata bonds have dropped 4.5% since last summer while similar gaming debt bonds issued by casinos outside of Atlantic City rose by an average 4.9%. Any chance that Beyoncé might ad-lib a verse to read Dangerously In Debt?