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Welcome, Gamblers... And Spouses Galore

Atlantic City gamblers, as we now know, visited toxic waste dumps more than they did Revel. The new owners are not making the same mistakes.

Welcome, Gamblers… And Spouses Galore

So, Atlantic City’s Ocean Resort Casino is now “Ocean Casino Resort.”

Now, was that so hard?

Ocean, of course, is the former Revel, the property at the end of Atlantic City’s Boardwalk that recently was purchased by the Luxor Capital hedge fund. The new owners have decided that—at long last—the place should actually be a casino.

The original owners of this resort, opened on Memorial Day weekend in 2012 and closed two years later, did everything they could to avoid using casino gambling to promote the resort. They considered it a non-gaming resort that happened to have a casino. Gambling would be one of a host of amenities.

They were almost ashamed of the casino. They didn’t even call it a casino. As noted in a recent article in New Jersey’s Courier Post on the new owner’s plans for the property, you can still find directional signs guiding customers to “Revelry,” a made-up euphemism for “casino.”

There were no comps. No smoking. No gambling promotions. They wanted people to come to Atlantic City for, I don’t know, saltwater taffy, as if gambling had never been legalized.

As was painfully realized by the first three owners of the place, the modern Atlantic City was built on gambling, and Atlantic City gamblers—like, um, me—were quite accustomed to being pampered for their gambling activity, and always looked for good deals. Free buffets were as important as celebrity chefs.

Atlantic City gamblers, as we now know, visited toxic waste dumps more than they did Revel. The new owners are not making the same mistakes.

For starters, you can now find the casino. One of the things I used to find so mystifying about the original Revel was that the hotel lobby was on the building’s 11th floor, and the casino was on the sixth floor, with no direct access between the two. To find the casino from the Boardwalk, you had to go up an escalator so scary I remember wishing I’d brought a parachute.

“You would think (the original builder) would have wanted to make it easy for guests to access the casino, instead of the opposite,” Ocean Marketing VP Mike Donovan told the Courier Post.

This Memorial Day weekend, Ocean debuted new elevators that deposit hotel guests from the lobby right to the middle of the casino floor.

Again, was that so hard?

Ocean is now promoting itself as a stop for serious gamblers. We’ll see. Call me when the full-pay video poker, 3:2 blackjack and 5X-odds craps games get there.

How about “Ocean Gambling Hall & Resort?” They could market it as “The World’s First Celebrity-Chef Gambling Hall.” (Don’t forget, you heard it here first.)

Meanwhile, I’ll just gather up my wives and head to California’s Lake Elsinore Casino.

Lake Elsinore, one of the state’s card-room casinos, is in hot water with California regulators for not fully disclosing information about its owner, Utah’s Kingston family—head of the Kingston Group, a polygamous sect also known as the Davis County Cooperative Society. The sect owns several types of businesses, but none that require the background-check scrutiny to which casinos are subjected.

Apparently, the Kingstons left out the polygamy thing when they applied for a license in the 1990s. Regulators now want them to sell the place.

They have sent the case to an administrative law judge, who is asking why the state’s two regulatory agencies have allowed the casino to operate under a provisional license for the past 20 years, while subject to what has to be the longest background check in the history of the industry.

The provisional license has been consistently renewed. That’s because the casino pumps a lot of revenue into the city of Lake Elsinore and the state of California. The city’s mayor, Steve Manos, recently called the casino “a great partner for the city.” It is Lake Elsinore’s fourth-largest employer.

Not surprisingly, money overrules that fact the place is owned by a family in charge of a Mormon sect that has been said to encourage child brides, incest, multiple wives and even white supremacy.

To city officials, the Kingstons are so wholesome, they could be the Brady Bunch. Just add a couple of wives, and a few grandchildren. (I always suspected there were some shenanigans between Greg and Marcia anyway.) They would have to change the theme song, though:

Here’s a story, about a man named Kingston, who was busy with seven wives and 23 kids of his own… All of them had hair of gold, and Aryan features… the youngest one in curls…

Here’s betting Lake Elsinore survives. Good thing, too. After all, they do have 3:2 blackjack.

Frank Legato is editor of Global Gaming Business magazine. He has been writing on gaming topics since 1984, when he launched and served as editor of Casino Gaming magazine. Legato, a nationally recognized expert on slot machines, has served as editor and reporter for a variety of gaming publications, including Public Gaming, IGWB, Casino Journal, Casino Player, Strictly Slots and Atlantic City Insider. He has an B.A. in journalism and an M.A. in communications from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, PA. He is the author of the books, How To Win Millions Playing Slot Machines... Or Lose Trying, and Atlantic City: In Living Color.  

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