It was the end of the road for Revel and Showboat this weekend as the two Atlantic City casinos closed their doors for good. For casinos in this seaside resort town, Labor Day is usually a celebratory time of the year. The traditional “end of summer” in the United States, the three-day weekend should be a booming time for the New Jersey gambling hub, as both gamblers and tourists can come to enjoy a three-day weekend and some great beach weather.
But for these two casinos in the beleaguered city, this year’s Labor Day weekend marked the final curtain. The Showboat Casino ended a 27-year run in Atlantic City on Sunday, while the Revel began their two-day shutdown on Monday. The two closures will bring the number of casinos in the city down to nine, a number that will drop to eight when the Trump Plaza resort closes later this month.
Showboat Closed Despite Remaining Profitable
The Showboat Casino Hotel was one of four casinos in Atlantic City owned by Caesars Entertainment (Bally’s Atlantic City, Caesars Atlantic City and Harrah’s Resort Atlantic City being the other three), and for the company, that was just one too many in the shrinking market. They hope that closing one casino will benefit the remaining three. But that doesn’t sit well with many employees, considering that the Showboat was still making money right up until the day it closed.
“We’re all feeling a little betrayed,” said Curtis Wade, a cook at the Showboat. “We’re all walking around in a fog today. We worked really hard to keep it operating, and we’re still profitable. We still don’t understand why we were the one targeted to close, and nobody has given us an answer on that.”
Caesars CEO Gary Loveman tried to let employees know that their efforts over the years had been appreciated.
“I want to thank the Showboat Atlantic City team for their dedication, professionalism, and commitment to our guests,” Loveman wrote in a letter to employees.
Revel Never Found Formula for Success
Not long after the Showboat closed, the same process began at the Revel. On Monday, the Revel Casino Hotel began clearing out hotel guests, with the casino set to shut down on Tuesday. The closure comes just over two years after the upscale resort first opened, and comes after two trips to bankruptcy court.
The Revel was designed to appeal to high-end travelers who would come for a variety of amenities, including their casino. But that didn’t seem to fit with the Atlantic City market, and the Revel never made a profit while it was in operation. A total smoking ban and a lack of casino standards and promotions like a buffet or rewards club turned off potential customers, and the owners didn’t have the benefit of the large player databases that established casino companies can rely on.
“Revel struggled with the execution of plans to develop their market, as well as with their design and just a basic understanding of the Atlantic City visitor,” said Borgata Senior Vice President Joe Lupo.
Both Properties Looking for Buyers
Both the Showboat and Revel are still looking for potential buyers. The Showboat is an older property, but given its history as a profitable casino, it may find suitors if Caesars doesn’t restrict the ability of a new buyer to operate a casino there.
On the other hand, the Revel comes with a lot of baggage. In particular, a heating, cooling and electrical plant is a major expense, and buyers have been unsuccessful in their attempts to purchase the resort while not taking the power plant as part of the deal.