In one of the most aggressive casino promotions ever seen in Atlantic City, Revel is now telling customers they literally can’t lose — at least in slots.
Beginning July 1, anyone who gambles away $100 or more in slot play during the month will see a complete refund to their players’ card. That refund will start in August and come at 5 percent a week over 20 weeks in an effort to give customers a reason to keep returning, said Randall Fine — whose firm, The Fine Group, is leading Revel’s marketing campaign as it emerges from bankruptcy. Revel will also begin matching competing slot offers from all other Atlantic City casinos.
“As far as we know ... a casino has never offered to refund slot losses for a month,” Fine said. “We wanted to come up with an offer they couldn’t refuse.”
For more than a year, Revel has been touted as resort first and a casino second. That changed Thursday as the newly renamed Revel Casino-Hotel unveiled a new marketing strategy completely bucking its tactics of a year ago. Now, it’s “Gamblers Wanted” at the $2.4 billion property that’s embarking on a costly and aggressive campaign to pull in the customer base it originally ignored in favor of the exclusive luxury traveler.
The promotions are the latest in Revel’s attempts to revamp its image. Doing so starts with contrition, said Fine, who said it’s important that Revel acknowledge mistakes were made as it attempts to get customers to give it a second chance. The casino that saw a $111 million gross operating loss in its first year is freshly emerging from bankruptcy proceedings that that left it in the hands of new ownership by a group of lenders.
On Wednesday, Revel announced it would also change its name to include the word “casino,” acknowledging that it does want gamblers after all.
Michael Pollock, managing director of Spectrum Gaming Group, a Linwood casino-consulting firm, said whether the new strategy works is yet to be determined, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that Revel has to completely abandon the idea of appealing to the high-end customer.
“It’s not an either/or situation. In appealing to the gambler, you don’t lose other opportunities. You’re just shifting the emphasis,” Pollock said. “Where Revel wanted to go originally wasn’t necessarily the wrong place, but Atlantic City is not there yet.”
The new management team now in place also recognizes that Atlantic City gamblers have built a history with other competitors. Those customers will need incentives like the newly announced promotions to consider coming through the doors, Fine said.
“In this business, you have to fight for the customers every single day,” said Jeffrey Hartmann, Revel’s interim chief executive officer. “We plan to be fighting for every dollar, every day.”
That fight now includes new affordable dining options, a pet-friendly policy, a high-limit slots area and a players’ club lounge. The plan also includes boasting the largest contiguous smoking section of any Atlantic City casino at 30,000 square feet, Revel officials said. The casino nixed its no-smoking policy just in time for the Memorial Day weekend.
“Every other casino in town has smoking banks. They haven’t taken an area and said to smokers, ‘Feel free to smoke throughout this area,’” Fine said. “Revel chose to give smokers their own destination where they didn’t have to worry if they could walk across the aisle with a cigarette.”
Brian Tyrrell, an associate professor of hospitality and tourism management at The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey, said just how successful Revel will be in luring in new customers will depend on the overall experience. Beyond the slot offers and the hospitality, people will often stay longer when there are crowds involved, he said.
“When you walk onto the casino floor and it appears to be fun and exciting because of the crowds involved, you might stay a little longer,” Tyrrell said. “Perhaps someone who had come in before and didn’t want to stay because there weren’t people around might change their mind.”
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