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Revel Casino in Atlantic City Could Reopen Under New Name as Soon as June, New Owner Glenn Straub Says

The “Revel Pearl” briefly lit up over the shuttered Revel casino resort this week, symbolizing the return of full power to the building, which will ultimately get a new name. (Image: Wayne Parry/AP)

The Revel Casino in Atlantic City, like a phoenix from the ashes, will reopen in June in the seaside resort town. New owner Glenn Straub made the pronouncement this week, and even lit up the skies to cement its reality.

That strange bright light in the sky over Atlantic City was actually what has been dubbed the “Revel Pearl,” a ball of light that once symbolized a beacon of hope on the top of a $2.4 billion casino.

But although the Revel was initially touted as the panacea to reinvigorate the faltering city, instead it folded in 2014 after being opened just two years, doomed by initial overspending, poor marketing decisions, and a bevy of other disastrous choices by management.

The Pearl was also snuffed out when the casino resort was shuttered 18 months ago, overwhelmed by debt and leaking $2 million a week.

This ball of light in the sky also heralded the fact that Revel’s savior, eccentric Florida property developer Straub, has fixed the electricity at last.

“That’s just us playing around,” Straub told Philly.com, of the brief rekindling of the Pearl. “To get it ready for June,” he explained.

“We’ll have horses going around the ball, new name on the ball. We don’t have any colors for it. We have to bring in the big boys now.”

Let There Be Light

Just six months ago, Revel was cursed. Straub bought it in April 2015 for $82 million, a bargain when you consider its construction costs. But with it, he inherited an astronomical energy bill from the adjacent power plant, which was built for the sole purpose of supplying power to Revel in a misguided “green energy” strategy that backfired.

When the casino ran out of money, the construction of the plant was briefly halted, before being taken over by investment group ACR.

ACR demanded a 15 percent return on its equity in the first five years and 18 percent after that, which led to the astronomical annual bill of $36 million. Straub balked at the bill and refused to honor the contract, vowing to bring in portable generators to power the 47-story building.

Two days after he assumed control of Revel, the plant cut the power, and the city deemed the building a fire hazard, fining the property mogul thousands of dollars each day, until a judge ordered power to be partially restored. After months of legal wrangling, Straub successfully bought the plant in January.

License? What License?

Straub has espoused many different plans for the building, ranging from a new water park with marinas that can host “super yachts,” to a university for the world’s elite minds, to a center devoted to “life extension science.”

He once said that he would definitely not open it as a casino, but a casino it will be in the end, albeit one with a completely different name. The new name has yet to be decided.

Another hitch: Straub doesn’t have a casino license yet, although he has his lawyers working on it.

“We don’t need a casino license, they can argue with us all they want,” maintains Straub, apparently unaware of New Jersey’s stringent regulatory process. “We’re saying we don’t have to have it. I’m the owner of the casino.”

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