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Shuttered $2.4B Atlantic City casino readies for 2nd chance

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) — For months, there was little, if any, sign that Atlantic City's former Revel casino, a $2 billion bust, was getting ready to reopen.

Colorado developer Bruce Deifik bought it in January and made plans for its reincarnation as the Ocean Resort Casino. But there was scant activity visible on the site.

That has changed.

Now, days from its opening date of June 28, the place is a blur of activity: Cocktail servers and bartenders are practicing their serving technique, housekeeping staff are already working on hotel rooms and seemingly everywhere you look someone is using a drill or a saw on something.

Hundreds of new workers are walking the halls clutching pieces of paper, while others sit in orientation classes or get measured for employee uniforms. Felt tops are being affixed to card and roulette tables, and even the street signs that once directed motorists to Revel now send them toward the Ocean Resort.

"We are definitely going to be ready," said Seth Schorr, a member of Deifik's management team after leading a tour of the casino hotel for reporters on Tuesday.

Revel cost $2.4 billion to build and lasted just over two years before closing on Sept. 2, 2014, making it Atlantic's biggest casino flop.

Deifik set out to correct Revel's numerous flaws, including difficulty getting around on the casino floor and making one's way through the property. The casino floor has been reconfigured with straighter sight lines and walkways. Employees called ambassadors will not only tell guests how to get to certain places, they'll walk them there, Schorr said.

Two days before sports betting was set to begin in New Jersey, workers were busy building a sports betting lounge just off the casino floor where The Social, a Revel gathering spot, used to be. Upstairs, an adult hangout named The Den was being created. The Den will include billiards, shuffleboard, arcade games and eSports, with the first eSports tournament set for October.

The casino's main check-in desk was still being worked on, as was a giant fish tank across from it.

But the 1,399 guest rooms were in fine shape, with new carpeting installed underneath fixtures that were just over two years old when they were last used.

And Ovation Hall, a 5,500-seart concert hall that hosted the likes of Beyonce when Revel operated, is unchanged.

Sixteen of the property's 20 restaurants will be open on its first day, with the other four opening soon afterward, Schorr said.

Ocean Resort is reopening on the same day as the former Trump Taj Mahal, which is reopening as the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino.

Follow Wayne Parry at http://twitter.com/WayneParryAC