Tragedy first struck the project a year into development. In 2008, a private jet carrying six casino and construction execs working on Revel, and two pilots, overshot the runway at a small Minnesota airport and crashed into a nearby cornfield. The group had been headed to meet with a local glass supplier. No one survived.

"That created a very, very strong bond for us," says Patrick Bergé, president of design firm Scéno.

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Revel was then dealt one bad hand after the next. In 2010, high winds toppled a crane off the roof. Plus, another crash -- the economy. Revel's major investor pulled out, and construction halted.

A year later, after construction resumed, lightning struck three workers pouring concrete in the tower, killing one.

Revel has to succeed, says Bergé. "No way these guys died for nothing."