|By Donald Wittkowski, The Press of
Atlantic City, Pleasantville, N.J.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
May 10, 2012--ATLANTIC CITY -- Revel, the $2.4 billion megaresort that some analysts predicted would quickly become Atlantic City's dominant casino, had just $13.4 million in gambling revenue in April during its first month of operation.
Revel released its revenue figure on Wednesday. Today, the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement will report April's slot and table games winnings for the entire industry.
Revel was nowhere near Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa's industry-leading $54 million in gambling revenue in March. Based on its April revenue, Revel will rank near the bottom of the pack for Atlantic City's 12 casinos.
Frank J. Fahrenkopf Jr., president and chief executive officer of the American Gaming Association, expressed surprise that Revel's revenue was so low. However, Fahrenkopf said he believes it is premature to draw any "negative conclusions" about Revel during its start-up phase.
"The opening of Revel is an exciting thing," Fahrenkopf said.
Kevin DeSanctis, Revel's CEO, said April served largely as a training and testing program as the casino ramps up toward its formal grand-opening ceremony during the Memorial Day weekend.
Revel was hampered in April by a lack of promotional offers for its slot machines, a limited number of hotel rooms and a series of technology glitches that are now being fixed, DeSanctis said.
"The reality is, we didn't really do anything to promote, and we limited the number of rooms that were opened," DeSanctis said.
DeSanctis said he expects revenue to begin increasing in June, July and August.
Revel was bedeviled by technology problems with many of the TV sets in its guest rooms. DeSanctis explained that poor reception with the TV signal caused sets to black out. As a result, Revel took hotel rooms out of service while the TV problems continued.
"Unfortunately, from a technology standpoint, we were having problems with the TVs. We didn't want to put guests in rooms where the TVs weren't working," DeSanctis said. "But we believe we have the problem resolved. It's been one of the nagging issues."
Technology problems also delayed Revel from implementing a promotional program for its slot machines. Technicians are working out the kinks and should have the slots promotions fully ready by May 21, DeSanctis said.
Revel is trying to integrate 55 technology systems into the casino hotel's operations, DeSanctis explained. He said Revel anticipated some difficulty in bringing so much technology online.
"I don't think it's anything that is particularly unexpected when opening a facility of this size," he said. "That was the whole reason for people to get things open and see what things are working and what's not working."
Revel is gradually adding hotel rooms, restaurants, retail shops and entertainment attractions while building toward its Memorial Day weekend grand-opening ceremony headlined by pop superstar Beyonce. There are nearly 1,100 guest rooms in service now, with another 300 expected to be ready for Memorial Day, DeSanctis said. Eventually, Revel will top out at nearly 1,900 rooms.
About 464,000 guests have visited Revel since it opened April 2, but DeSanctis characterized many of those people as "sightseers." His comments -- plus the surprisingly low gambling revenue for April -- suggest that visitors are still checking Revel out before deciding whether to spend their money on the casino floor and at the nongambling attractions.
For months, some Wall Street gaming analysts have been predicting Revel would replace Borgata as Atlantic City's top-grossing casino. However, Joe Lupo, senior vice president of operations for Borgata, said his casino remains confident it will remain No. 1.
"I've always said that we always thought that we would be the market leader. We don't expect that to change," Lupo said.
Lupo added that it will likely be months before Revel's true impact on the market will be known. He noted that Borgata's revenues grew in the months following its July 2003 opening and expects Revel to fit the same pattern.
"I think that as they grow their database and open all the facilities, you'll definitely see those numbers go up. Their approach is a slow ramp-up," Lupo said.
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