Revel replaces casino's CEO in shakeup
ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) — Kevin DeSanctis, the man who guided Atlantic City's Revel casino-hotel through its tortuous development, only to see it struggle in the cutthroat East Coast gambling market, is stepping down as head of the $2.4 billion resort.
The company announced Wednesday that DeSanctis and chief investment officer Michael Garrity will resign from their positions with Revel Atlantic City but retain their jobs with Revel Group, the holding company that developed the resort and licenses its brand. There, they will work on developing amenity projects for Revel.
Taking over the resort's day-to-day operations is Jeffrey Hartmann, a 20-year veteran of the casino, hospitality and leisure industry. His duties will begin once he is approved by New Jersey casino regulators.
The moves come less than two weeks before Revel is expected to file a pre-packaged Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing that will wipe out about two-thirds of its $1.5 billion in debt and give lenders a greater equity stake in the resort in return.
DeSanctis said the decision for him to resign was a mutual one, shared by the company's lenders and board. The anticipated pace of Revel's recovery played a large part.
"They had one time horizon; we had another," DeSanctis said. "We believe the property over a long term can be extremely successful, but it's going to take some time. Not everyone has the luxury of that time frame."
DeSanctis said Revel has done well in terms of pleasing group and leisure travelers but added there is much work to be done on the gambling side of its operation, an observation he called "a blinding flash of the obvious."
The casino took in $122 million from its April 2 opening through the end of last year. In February, Revel took in just over $9 million from gamblers, ranking it 10th out of the city's 12 casinos.
Asked what decisions he would change in retrospect, DeSanctis said Revel needed more time to better integrate its 55 technology systems. And the resort's non-smoking policy — it is the only one of Atlantic City's casinos to go totally smoke-free — will be reviewed in coming months, Hartmann said.
"Probably we could have focused a little more on how to make the smoking guests feel as welcome as the non-smoking guest," DeSanctis said. "Our intention was never to make the smoking guest feel uncomfortable."
Hartmann said he plans to a large extent to follow the business plan set out by his predecessors. He spent the past nine weeks as a consultant to Revel, examining its operations and staff.
"We are all stewards of the culture built by Kevin," he said. He added that Revel would not rush into any immediate changes of its gambling operations.
"We're going to be thoughtful, mindful of profitability," he said. "We're not going to be impulsive in terms of how we look at our gaming revenues."