NJ OKs Revel co-owners to operate casino

NJ casino regulators give final approval to investment firm to be Revel's largest owner

Associated Press

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) -- New Jersey casino regulators gave final approval Wednesday to an investment firm to be the largest owner of Revel Casino Hotel.

The state Casino Control Commission granted final approval to Chatham Asset Management, a hedge fund that is part of a lender group that emerged with an ownership stake in Revel following its bankruptcy last year. Chatham owns 28 percent of Revel.

But how long any of this lasts is anyone's guess. Revel is considering selling itself or making a second bankruptcy filing.

During a brief hearing before the commission, Evan Ratner, a principal of Chatham, did not discuss the company's future plans. It said last year it is pursuing "strategic options," which is code in the industry for looking at a sale or a bankruptcy filing.

Revel already had one Chapter 11 filing last year, which came less than a year after it opened. Chatham was one of the casino's lenders, and emerged with a 22 percent ownership stake in Revel following the bankruptcy.

Ratner said Chatham has since purchased an additional 6 percent ownership stake, and is Revel's largest owner. It received temporary permission from the state last May to be an owner of Revel.

Ratner left the hearing before it ended, and was not present when an official of the Unite-HERE Local 54 union asked the commission to look after the jobs of Revel's workers in any sale.

Ben Begleiter cited media reports that potential purchasers, including Caesars Entertainment and the Seminole Tribe of Florida's Hard Rock International, are looking to acquire the casino.

Patricia Van Woeart was laid off last month from her job in the coffee shop of the Atlantic Club Casino Hotel, which closed on Jan. 13 following a bankruptcy auction.

"When they closed the Atlantic Club, 1600 people lost their jobs — jobs that get you mortgages, a car, braces for your kids," said Van Woeart, who worked for the casino for 17 years. "I'm out of a job through no fault of my own."

"I don't want people at Revel to go through what I'm going through," she said.

Revel opened in April 2012 with great hopes of helping turn around Atlantic City's struggling casino market. But it has remained mired near the bottom of the city's 11 casinos in terms of the amount of money won from gamblers.

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Wayne Parry can be reached at http://twitter.com/WayneParryAC

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