Atlantic City could be epicenter for legalization of sports betting

New Owner Of AC’s Ocean Resort Casino — The Former Revel — Wants ‘Best In Market’ Sportsbook

sports betting Revel NJ
Atlantic City’s newest casino owner says he wants his property to be the “best in market” for sports betting.

Colorado developer Bruce Deifik purchased the former Revel/TEN resort last Thursday for $200 million. He plans to invest another $175 million on improvements, including a state-of-the-art sportsbook. More on the sale and reopening of the casino — which will be called Ocean Resort Casino — here.

The ability to open a sportsbook will depend on whether New Jersey wins its US Supreme Court case in Christie vs. NCAA. The NJ sports betting case could open up sports gambling in AC and at the state’s horse racing tracks in North Jersey.

Ocean Resort Casino to open in 2018

The property’s sale was announced today in a press release from AC Ocean Walk, Deifik’s corporate entity.

Deifik is a real estate developer with more than a hundred commercial properties under his umbrella, mostly in the West. He now owns the tallest, most-expensive building in Atlantic City.

The former Revel cost $2.4 billion to build, but it closed soon after opening because of excessive operating costs. Previous owner Glenn Straub purchased it out of bankruptcy for $82 million in 2015, but he never managed to get the doors open.

Even at $200 million, Deifik could realize some good value from his 20-acre patch of the AC Boardwalk. The property will reopen as early as this summer under the name Ocean Resort Casino.

“The new ‘Ocean’ will represent one of the finest hotel, casino properties in existence today in an improving market that has demonstrated strength and resilience,” Deifik said. The resort is expected to generate at least 2,500 jobs for local residents.

NJ sports betting is of interest

Deifik has already applied for his casino license, something the seller never managed to do while he owned the property. “The Ocean” will have 100 table games and 2,200 slot machines within 138,000 square feet of gaming space.

It is already planning a sportsbook, as well. In his statement, Deifik specifically mentioned plans to build the best sportsbook in the city.

Atlantic City is coming back with a vengeance and with the groundwork for the legalization of sports betting, we foresee a great opportunity to bring a state of the art sports book to a city which caters to a large and diverse sports market.

Details were sparse, so the fact that Deifik highlighted sports betting is telling. It’s the first time he’s commented publicly about his purchase.

The property will also retain its large convention center, the 5,700-seat concert venue, and some of its previous dining options.

New Jersey sports betting on hold for now

Deifik’s plan for sports betting is a bit premature, of course. It’s not feasible as long as single-game wagering remains illegal outside of Nevada. A federal law, PASPA, is under review by the US Supreme Court, with New Jersey as the litigant.

Most analysts seem to think the state has a good chance to win, and casino owners are already preparing for victory. Deifik has announced his property as an early contender, but he’s not the first to do so.

Late last year, executives from MGM Resorts International visited Borgata to oversee the design of its sportsbook. Jay Rood, the VP of Race and Sports, said the company is already exploring the implementation of a long-term sports betting strategy outside of Nevada. It plans to invest $7 million to get Borgata ready.

Hard Rock is reopening the former Trump Taj Mahal this summer, too, but there’s no word about its plans regarding a sportsbook so far. It has, however, indicated that it wants to host fantasy sports in some capacity, which might provide an early hint.

Eric Ramsey
- Eric is a reporter and writer covering regulated US gambling, sports betting, and DFS. He comes from a poker background, formerly on staff at PokerNews and the World Poker Tour.