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Revel casino looks to emerge from bankruptcy

When the smoke clears from Revel's bankruptcy . . . there will be smoke.

Atlantic City's only smoke-free casino will soon allow patrons to light up on the gambling floor as part of the Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing it made late Monday night.

Allowing patrons to smoke is only one of several big changes the $2.4 billion resort is planning. Its bankruptcy filing listed mistakes and misfortunes that caused the much-heralded resort to struggle since the day it opened last April.

Among the missteps cited by Dennis Stogsdill, Revel's chief restructuring officer, were a $100 million cost overrun it blamed on a contractor; the casino's failure to connect with day-trippers; too-expensive food and drinks, and the lack of a players' club. Closing for six days last fall for superstorm Sandy didn't help, either.

"The casino has struggled mightily to make headway with the traditional Atlantic City patron that does not stay overnight, an important segment of the customer base for any Atlantic City casino," he wrote in court documents. "Some of the debtors' early wounds were caused by third parties, others were due to an act of God. Still others, it must be acknowledged, were self-inflicted."

Stogsdill also said Revel botched its initial marketing efforts, calling them "not well-conceived and executed." It introduced itself with a widely broadcast television ad featuring a model disappearing into a suitcase, roasting a cupcake with a blowtorch, and a poolside guest wearing a bizarre mask.

Revel's bankruptcy filing lists $1.1 billion in assets and $1.5 billion in liabilities.

The casino says it plans to exit bankruptcy court by May 30. The restructuring will wipe out 82 percent of its $1.5 billion debt, leaving it with a manageable $272 million in debt.

Revel has languished near the bottom of Atlantic City's 12 casinos in terms of gambling revenue since opening on April 2, 2012. Revel posted gross operating losses of $35 million and $37 million in the second and third quarters of last year.

The decision to file for bankruptcy was made in early February.

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