$2.4B Atlantic City Casino Struggling Again, To Sell 6 Months After Reopening
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The tallest building in Atlantic City and second-tallest casino in the U.S. is on the brink of selling for the second time in 12 months.
Built in 2012 for $2.4B as the Revel casino and shuttered just two years later, the Ocean Resort casino reopened its doors six months ago under the ownership of Bruce Deifik and his company, Mile High Dice. But a series of court cases came to light Wednesday that paint a dire financial picture, and on Thursday Deifik announced the building's impending sale, 6 ABC reports.
Revel was perhaps the highest-profile casualty of the casino industry's collapse in Atlantic City around the middle of this decade, languishing empty even after investor Glenn Straub bought the property for $82M at a bankruptcy auction. After a protracted period of sitting on the property that prompted then-Gov. Chris Christie to pressure Straub to sell, Deifik stepped in and paid around $200M for the building at the beginning of 2018.
Mile High Dice then spent $175M over six months to renovate the casino, rebranding it as Ocean Resort. Among the improvements made were introducing a more open plan for the casino floor and the installation of a Topgolf facility. But after the grand reopening (attended by city and state officials, as well as Mark Wahlberg), gambling and total revenue ranked near the bottom of Atlantic City casinos, the Press of Atlantic City reports. The Hard Rock Hotel, which redeveloped the former Trump Taj Mahal, opened on the same weekend in June and has since reported gross operating profits nearly eight times that of Ocean Resort, 6 ABC reports.
Deifik has also been sued for $10M by the former manager of a nightclub within the building named HQ2 (no relation to Amazon) in a lawsuit that alleges the manager was pushed out of a contract that helped secure financing for the building. The lawsuit also stated Deifik was planning to sell the casino, possibly forcing Deifik's hand in announcing the attempted sale, which he said would close Thursday to an undisclosed buyer. Several liens have also been filed with the Atlantic County Clerk's office by contractors claiming missed payments, according to the Press.
To complete the purchase, the anonymous buyer will have to obtain a gaming license with the state of New Jersey, a process that will force it to identify itself. Deifik claims that on top of the purchase price, the buyer will invest $70M into further renovations for Ocean Resort, which will remain open, according to 6 ABC.