Friday, October 9, 2015

Revel-ations from Monday's opening

There's no denying Atlantic City's $2.4 billion Revel mega-resort redefines "fabulous" and gives the beleaguered gambling capital a world-class, must-see attraction that simply is unlike anything North America has ever experienced. But that doesn't mean everything was perfect during Monday's opening day.

Revel-ations from Monday's opening

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Despite a wildly successful opening day, there were a few glitches at Revel mega-resort. Photo: Revel Entertainment

There’s no denying Atlantic City’s $2.4 billion Revel mega-resort redefines “fabulous” and gives the beleaguered gambling capital a world-class, must-see attraction that simply is unlike anything North America has ever experienced. But that doesn’t mean everything was perfect during Monday’s opening day.

For instance, at least two of the five restaurants (out of a planned 14) that were doing business Monday—The Mussel Bar and Lugo Caffe--ran out of food Monday evening. The host at Lugo—which uses the double-“f” spelling in its name--explained they had planned to serve 150 dinners and would up at 220 before shutting down for the night).

Then there is the problem with the casino security cameras. It seems the existing cameras cannot operate properly in bright lighting. So, in the property’s superb new, 37-table poker room, the lighting was dimmer than it should have been. Otherwise, the video would have washed out and been ineffective. We heard the same holds true for all of the casino’s surveillance cameras, and that they will all soon be replaced.

Also, despite Revel’s high-techy operations, the poker tables do not yet have automatic card shufflers (which increase the number of hands dealt per hour). Sources said the tables were ordered before there were any poker experts on board, and nobody thought to request the shufflers, which are on their way and will soon be installed.

Other minor problems included inadequate cell phone reception and transmission (which likewise is being addressed) and at least one elevator that didn’t work.

But, as Revel CEO Kevin DeSanctis has explained for weeks, the whole point of the two-month “preview” period is to identify and correct such problems so all is running smoothly by the Memorial Day Weekend grand opening.

Good deal in poker room

Speaking of Revel’s clubby, comfortable card parlor (located on the mezzanine level overlooking the casino floor), it seems likely it will soon become a marketplace leader. That’s because the hourly rate player’s club cardholders receive is higher than anywhere else in town. For $1-$2 No Limit Texas Hold’em, the standard premium is $1 in comp points per hour played. At Revel. It’s $2 (for $2-$5 players, it’s $2.50). Better yet (and this applies for all players, not just pokeristas), the redemption formula is 1-to-1, rather than the citywide norm of 2-to-1.

That means if you have a $100 meal in a Revel restaurant, they will charge 100 points to your player’s card. Elsewhere, that same $100 meal costs a 200 points.

A radical—and welcome—departure

Even though I knew about it, I must admit it was something of a thrill to approach the valet-parking area Monday. Those availing themselves of the service arrive at the main entrance via a long access road that brings car and driver within yards of the ocean—a radical departure from the norm, which dictates everything must be designed to keep players from even thinking about the surrounding environment.

Pulling up to a view of a sun-dappled Atlantic Ocean is definitely a great way to begin a casino visit.

Back to the future

For such a forward-looking, futuristic operation, Monday’s opening was as much a blast from the past as anything. It’s been quite a while since any AyCee gambling den has seen thousands of people streaming through it on a Monday afternoon during the off-season. If this was a harbinger of things to come, Revel can’t help but be an unprecedented success.

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About this blog
Philly native Chuck Darrow has literally covered Atlantic City’s casino scene since Day One: He was there on assignment the night in November 1976 when voters approved legalized casinos.

Since then, Chuck has covered the town and its gaming industry for several area newspapers -- which is why, in some circles, he’s known as “Boardwalk Charlie.”

You can reach Chuck at

Chuck Darrow