ATLANTIC CITY — There was no fanfare — just some hard-hat-wearing construction workers, with assembly-line efficiency, wheeling in hundreds of slot machines wrapped in plastic.
But this scene Wednesday morning in a drafty loading dock area represented a milestone for the $2.4 billion Revel casino as it moves closer to a spring grand opening.
“It’s very exciting. My words can’t explain it. It’s a real big step for everyone involved,” George Mancuso, Revel’s vice president of slot operations, said of the first shipment of 323 machines to the unfinished casino.
For now, the official grand opening date for Revel remains May 15, although Mancuso and other Revel officials noted that construction is ahead of schedule and there is a possibility the opening could be moved up.
Construction on the interior of the luxury megaresort is taking place out of public view. Reporters were confined to a hallway by the loading dock as the new slot machines arrived. Access was not allowed on the casino floor. Revel spokeswoman Maureen Siman said the company is preparing to give media tours of the casino complex in about three or four weeks.
“We’ll show it when it’s ready,” Siman said. “We’re not ready yet.”
The first shipment of slots shows that construction of Revel’s casino floor is entering the final stages. Revel will receive delivery of about 200 to 300 machines per day and expects to have its full inventory of 2,400 slots in place by Jan. 20. Revel’s table games will come later in the month, although the company is still determining how many there will be, Siman said.
Revel’s gaming floor will spread out over 150,000 square feet of space. That size will put Revel in the top tier of Atlantic City’s casino hotels. Only Harrah’s Resort and Bally’s Atlantic City will have more gaming space than Revel. Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort’s gaming space is comparable to Revel’s, New Jersey gaming statistics show.
Mancuso explained that Revel plans to mix in classic titles such as “Wheel of Fortune,” “The Wizard of Oz” and the “Diamond” series with other new slot themes that will be unveiled later. About 20 percent of the slots will be progressive machines, meaning that they will be electronically linked to create a common megajackpot.
Moreover, Revel will be the first Atlantic City casino to feature server-based slot machines, a type of technology that allows the themes, jackpots and denominations to be changed in just minutes through a software switch instead of going through the more laborious manual process that is done now.
With server-based games, slot themes could be tailor-made to fit the casino customers. For instance, the senior citizens who frequent the casinos during the day could play the penny slots, while the younger, bigger-spending night-time crowds could be given higher denominations on the same machine.
“If a customer wants to play a particular brand, we will be able to change that game in a matter of minutes on the floor,” Mancuso said. “It gives us a big advantage.”
Revel will start with 100 server-based slots, pending regulatory approval by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement. Mancuso expects that most of the Revel slot machines eventually will use the technology.
The slot machines are arriving at the same time Revel is stepping up efforts to hire the 5,500 employees who will staff the casino hotel. Revel has pledged to give first preference for jobs to Atlantic City residents.
“We’re in full-blown hiring right now,” Siman said.
Revel has stirred controversy by limiting some of the positions, such as bartenders, cocktail servers and table games dealers, to a set employment term of four to six years. The idea is to ensure fresh faces for employees who have constant contact with customers, Revel officials said. Atlantic City’s largest casino union has criticized the hiring policy as discriminatory.
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