revel play day

Revel blackjack dealer Ravi Jain, of Atlantic City, deals cards Wednesday during the first of three invitation-only 'play dates' as a dress rehearsal for the April 2 opening.

Anthony Smedile

ATLANTIC CITY — Shamika McNair was content to just sit and look out onto the ocean through the floor-to-ceiling windows while William Kennedy and his parents marveled at the velvet-colored rooms and other touches they said set the Revel apart from other casinos.

They were among the hundreds of people invited to a first peek at Atlantic City’s newest resort Wednesday evening. Revel held what it called an invitation-only “play date” to give a select few a first look inside the $2.4 billion megaresort before it opens to the public Monday. Other invitation-only play dates are scheduled for the rest of this week.

Several of the people invited to Wednesday’s session were residents who live in and around Revel, including the Kennedys, who walked to the casino from their summer home. The opening was a long time coming, and after years of waiting for the work to end, including countless hours of construction noise, the Kennedys were eager to take a look inside.

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“The air is so fresh,” said John Kennedy, contrasting the smell from the smoke-filled air typically found in other casinos in the city.

However, his son William Kennedy said he wasn’t sure how long the no smoking rules would last.

“I don’t know if a casino that doesn’t allow smoking is going to last in Atlantic City,” he said.

What also was different about Revel was that dollar bills were accepted on the casino floor. For the most part, the machines worked, although casino personnel were on hand to assist in case of machine glitches, which officials expect will be the case for a time.

While people were inevitably trying out the new machines, others, such as McNair, were content to find a cushioned bench near the windows, which gave her an unobstructed view of the ocean. The 30-year-old city resident can see the ocean from her home as well, but nothing like the floor-to-ceiling views at Revel, McNair said.

“To come into a casino and see this?” she asked, her voice trailing off.

Meanwhile, Shakir Salaam, 36, had been eager to show off the spa to his wife, Tanisia, 28, because he said it was his favorite place at Revel, but because that area was not open to the public yet, the two were content to do a quick tour before walking back home.

For Salaam, the best part about the project, he said, was that it allowed him to work, first as a member of the construction crew, and going forward as part of the resort’s window-cleaning staff.

“As long as they keep hiring local people, I think it’s a good thing,” Salaam said, adding the work was a welcome addition considering that he had been laid off for two years. “It’s going to benefit a lot more than Revel.”

Even for people who didn’t get the invitation to tour the casino, such as Sam Abdalla, owner of Romy’s Deli, a grocery and deli that is a few yards from Revel, the availability of jobs was the best thing about the resort.

“It’s good because 5,000 people get hired,” he said. “That means 5,000 families get money.”

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