Atlantic City, New Jersey, is having a rough time. Years of prosperity founded on the gambling industry are fading into the past, a victim of the growing availability of legal gambling and easy-to-play lotteries in other states. The handwriting has been on the wall for years, but that didn't stop big-money backers from building the Revel Casino Hotel starting in 2009.
But the hotel was never completed — only one of two planned towers was built after Morgan Stanley, the project's chief financial backer, backed out in 2010. The complex opened in 2012, but closed in 2014 after declaring bankruptcy. Three other Atlantic City casinos went bust in the same year.
Now, the $2.4-billion Revel has a new owner: Florida tycoon Glenn Straub, who acquired the property in an auction sale for a mere $82 million (barely 3% of its construction cost). Straub has big plans, according to press reports: "Straub's ideas for Atlantic City have ranged from the pedestrian (a casino-hotel, a waterpark) to the exotic (a genius-filled thinktank, an international equestrian hub)," reported the Press of Atlantic City (see: "Revel Casino Hotel sold to Straub's company," by Reuben Kramer).
But first Straub has to solve his immediate problem: turning on the lights. "The 6.2-million-square-foot complex went dark Thursday when the property's sole energy supplier cut power over a fee dispute," reports the Press (see: "Revel goes dark," by Reuben Kramer). The Revel was the only customer for a $162-million power plant owned by ACR Energy Company, and the casino's financial failure also brought ACR to the brink of bankruptcy, the company said. But Straub has said that ACR's terms for continuing to supply power are "$300 million too much."
Now, city officials are fining Straub thousands of dollars for every day the lights are off at his building, for safety reasons. Said fire official Vincent Granese: ""With the fire suppression system down, we can't fight a fire in this building safely."