Straub to reopen Revel as a casino; growing support for North Jersey casinos

revel-atlantic-city-casinoA new poll shows increased local support for New Jersey legislators’ plans to authorize two casinos in the northern part of the state.

On Tuesday, Fairleigh Dickinson University released a new PublicMind poll that showed 50% of state residents polled were opposed to New Jersey amending its constitution to allow casino gambling outside Atlantic City, while 42% were in favor of the plan.

That contrasts with a PublicMind poll conducted seven months ago, in which 56% were opposed and only 37% in favor. PublicMind director Krista Jenkins said the latest poll suggested that the increased acceptance could have to do with the public finally hearing some concrete details on the plan from state legislators.

After months of wrangling, state legislators reached a compromise last week on a plan that would authorize two casinos in two different north Jersey counties. Both casinos would be majority owned by an existing AC casino operator and AC operators would receive a maximum of one-third of the state’s tax revenue from the new casinos. Each new casino would require a minimum of $1b investment.

The compromise bill must receive a 60% favorable vote in both of New Jersey’s legislative bodies before the question can be put to voters via a ballot referendum this November. However, support for north Jersey casinos is highest (52%) among voters aged 18 to 34 years, and younger voters are notorious for not showing up at the voting booths on the day in question, so this is far from a slam dunk.

Meanwhile, developer Glenn Straub announced on Tuesday that he wants to see the shuttered Revel reborn as a casino. Straub, who purchased AC’s bankrupt white elephant a year ago only to spend the rest of 2015 in the courts working out the details, told the Associated Press he definitely wants to open Revel as a casino, but one that is “about 50% of what was there.”

Straub offered no timetable for when this slimmed down casino might open, but indicated he would hire an operator to manage the gaming business, which would include options to attract Asian gamblers. However, Straub has yet to win a casino license from the Casino Control Commission, so for the moment it’s all speculation.

Straub doesn’t plan on keeping Revel’s name, apparently convinced that the $2.4b property deserves a second life unencumbered by the legacy of AC’s biggest financial failure. Revel declared bankruptcy twice within two years of opening its doors before closing for good in September 2014, one of four AC casinos to give up the ghost that year.