Inside Gaming: Ownership Change at Recently Opened Ocean Resort Casino
This week’s Inside Gaming starts with the news that an Atlantic City casino will be changing ownership just six months after opening, tells of a British Airways ad sparking debates about portrayals of gambling in the media, and notes how this year’s Super Bowl broadcast won’t be featuring sports betting talk.
Open Six Months, Ocean Resort Casino to Change Ownership
Two casinos opened the famed Atlantic City Boardwalk last summer, with the Hard Rock Atlantic City and Ocean Resort Casino both opening their doors on the same day at the end of June. The added revenue brought by both properties helped fuel an overall increase in gaming revenue in Atlantic City for the year.
However this week came news that one of the two new properties, the Ocean Resort Casino (located at the site formerly occupied by the Revel Casino Hotel that closed in 2014), is changing ownership once again as new owner Bruce Deifik has found a buyer who will be taking over majority ownership of the property, the .
While Deifik did not identify the buyer, the new owner is investing $70 million in the property which will stay open during the transition. The transaction will require approval from regulators.
Earlier this week the possibility that Deifik was seeking a buyer and that the Ocean Resort Casino was experiencing financial difficulty. Regarding the latter, Atlantic County records describe Deifik’s company still owing contractors more than $1 million.
The report also describes a lawsuit filed in December by a former manager of the resort’s nightclub alleging breach of contract, with the manager’s attorney referencing Deifik’s intention to sell in its suit.
In his statement Deifik spoke positively of his tenure as the Ocean Resort’s owner. He first obtained the property just over one year ago.
“It has been truly an honor for myself and my family to have taken this property, opened its doors and brought back the players, the families, the convention guests and the sports betting enthusiasts,” said Deifik.
According to the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement’s latest revenue report, in November 2018 the Ocean Resort realized $15.2 million in gaming revenue. That was up from the $14.5 million in October, though still behind all but one of the other eight Atlantic City casinos, topping only Bally’s Atlantic City’s $14.5 million.
According to the AP, the new funds will be used “to open a buffet, additional suites and rooms, and [for] investments on the casino floor.” There are also plans to increase entertainment offerings and events for players during the new year.
British Airways Ad Criticized as Pro-Gamblng
British Airways received some backlash this week after running a television ad some felt glamorized gambling, becoming the target of complaints by Members of Parliament.
As , the ad, part of campaign by the airline highlighting memorable vacation stories, presents a couple’s story about going for a swim at a hotel-casino and stopping by the slots on their way back where after a couple of lucky spins they managed to turn spare change into nearly $500. "Luckiest dip ever," they say.
A group of MPs complained about the ad, criticizing BA for promoting gambling. "Utterly appalling," said former Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith. "What were they thinking?"
A spokesperson for the Advertising Standards Authority confirmed the regulator had received complaints about the way the ad appears to promote gambling and show "it in a glamorous and frivolous way, and that it’s therefore irresponsible."
BA responded with its own spokesperson explaining the campaign and how the ad is "one of a series which has been broadcast by us over the last three years, promoting a range of special memories that millions of British Airways Holidays’ customers experience when they travel with us every year."
No Sports Betting Talk on Super Bowl Broadcast Says CBS
Finally, another story from the week related to the issue of gambling being discussed and possibly viewed as being promoted by mass media.
The May ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court removing the federal prohibition on sports betting and allowing individual states to begin offering wagering on sports has had numerous implications.
Not only is sports betting now allowed in eight U.S. states — Delaware, Mississippi, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and West Virginia — but reporting on sports has been affected as well, with point spreads and betting lines now more frequently being evoked in the context of coverage than had been the case previously.
However, don’t expect to see a change in that regard when watching Super Bowl LIII which takes place February 3 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia. CBS Sports Chairman Sean McManus clarified in a news conference yesterday that the network has no intention to highlight betting on the Super Bowl during its broadcast, as .
“We will be flexible going forward,” said McManus, “but it’s only been legalized in a few states so far.” He added that while CBS will not “burden our announcers with” an obligation to refer to the many wagers sports bettors can make on the game, the network might change its thinking on the topic going forward.
The Super Bowl is, of course, the most popular sporting event each year among bettors. Last year when Nevada was the only state allowed to offer sports betting, a total of almost $158.6 million was wagered on the game in the state’s sportsbooks, exceeding the previous record by just over $20 million (from the year before). However, the sportsbooks only won $1.1 million on the game in which the Philadelphia Eagles defeated the New England Patriots.
Meanwhile the $4.76 billion was wagered on last year’s Super Bowl, with about 97 percent of that total comprised of illegal betting.
Photo: "Ocean Resort Casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey" (adapted), Farragutful, CC BY-SA 4.0.
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