TEN Atlantic City Promises June Opening, but Without Real-Money Gambling
TEN Atlantic City, the former Revel Casino property at the north end of Atlantic City's famed boardwalk, might be open as soon as June, if property owner and re-developer Glenn Straub has his way. The only problem: If it does open, it almost certainly won't be offering any sort of real-money gambling.
As for play-money, online gaming, sure, no problem. You can do at TEN's online home (http://tenacnj.com/) right now. At least Straub's enterprise might be harvesting a few names and e-mail addresses, scattered raindrops in a collection barrel that might amount to.
The long-running saga involving the demise of Revel and its acquisition by the mercurial Straub has added a couple of interesting chapters in recent weeks. Straub appears to have always wanted to own and operate a casino, despite his protests to the contrary... and he wanted to (and did, sort of) pick one up on the cheap. When he acquired the bankrupt and shuttered Revel back in 2014, that possibility loomed, though Straub pitched other far-fetched concepts for his beachside bauble. The makeover concepts floated for the property have included a 5,000-seat arena, an indoor water park, indoor / artificial ski slopes, indoor and year-round equestrian events, an “idea” college, and even a medical life-extension facility. We've probably missed a few in the rush.
However, there was always the chance that Straub really wanted nothing more than to try again the casino route with the Revel property. If only his relationships with Atlantic City and New Jersey's gaming regulators weren't so dismal that Straub's chances of casino licensure are non-existent in the short term.
Straub has already sued New Jersey's Casino Control Commission, trying to force the licensing agency to accept Straub's concept of having live casino operations at the new TEN run by a third party, leasing the space inside the TEN property. Straub himself claims to have not wanted to run a casino himself, despite state regulations that dictate that use for the former Revel, a six-million-square-foot facility. Straub instead wants his contracted vendor – and only that vendor – to have to obtain required licensing from the city and state, which neither jurisdiction allows.
Straub has already sued Nevada's Casino Control Commission (CCC) and the DGE as part of that battle, and remains mired in a continuing controversy with another CCC-operated state agency, the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority (CRDA), over land-use requirements. The CRDA has so far withheld its final approval for the TEN properties' access developments, amid another $20 million debt incurred by Revel back in 2012, agreed to back in 2009, for the very same purpose.
That $20 million debt was attached to the state's conditions of sale from the old Revel, assuming that the property would continue to be used as a casino. That rider was removed during the actual bankruptcy auction proceedings, where Straub – who actually wasn't the original winning bidder – picked up the property on the cheap. Revel's original development price was about $2.4 billion, and Straub acquired it for just $82 million. All those other ideas for the property could have been a ploy to have that $20 million debt wiped away, one might cynically wonder... despite the fact that the CRDA has stated elsewhere that the deed restriction itself was indeed wiped away
Straub has tried to circumvent the state in several ways amid all this, which is why his own licensing prospects are so dismal. Straub and TEN recently filed an application for an Atlantic City mercantile license for 300 rooms and 300 parking spots, according to an Atlantic City official. However, Atlantic City can’t approve the mercantile application until the CRDA matter is settled, and with the lawsuit on the table and no settlement in sight, such an approval won't happen soon.
Meanwhile, Straub's stiffing of tax-related obligations related to the old Revel property continues. Straub has also failed to pay the Revel/TEN property's proscribed share of the $120 million PILOT payment (Payment In Lieu of Taxes) owed annual to Atlantic City's City Development Authority each January. In February, the CDA noted that all casino properties “except one” had made their payments.
Straub quickly acknowedged that TEN was the unnamed “one,” telling the Press of Atlantic City, “We are not going to pay them.” Straub also aired his demands for a review of the tax bill assessed to TEN. “We’ve been shut down now for three years,” he said. “As an abandoned building, we want the value of an abandoned building, not the value of a casino hotel.”
Reports don't indicate precisely how much Straub and TEN owe for 2017. However, the same POAC report notes that the property was assessed a $5.2 million tax for 2016... a tax which Straub and his development company paid.
The supposedly revitalized TEN has missed two previously announced soft-launch dates amid these disputes. First it was June of 2016, then February of 2017, and now, who knows? The boardwalk casino appears destined to sit mostly empty for quite some additional time. At some point the property will reopen, but perhaps not as TEN, and maybe not under Straub's ownership and guidance. That's how unsettled the current situation is.