The Ocean Resort Casino in Las Vegas has a new owner – the Ilitch family, owners of Little Caesars pizza. The casino is undergoing renovations while waiting to open its doors with hopes that it will be up and running by September 2019.

The turbulent but interesting transformation of Ocean Casino Resort from a failing property with an unclear future to a thriving corporation and a new power to be reckoned with in a highly competitive sector has been stormy but intriguing. Multiple ownership and leadership changes, as well as a name change, have been among the many twists and turns along the route.

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The casino’s original name was Ocean Resort Casino. It may seem inconsequential that the choice to rename it Ocean Casino Resort was made. It does, however, show a change in focus toward what it can provide first and foremost to casino players, particularly high-end players.

How Luxor Capital Group’s acquisition of Ocean Casino Resort saved the day

Most crucially, since Luxor Capital Group, a New York-based hedge fund, bought the property from the previous owner, the late Bruce Deifik, in January 2019, Ocean has improved in almost every facet of its operations. Luxor has not only met its commitment to spend $70 million in debt reduction and property improvements, but has gone above and above. It was able to turn around a property that was losing up to $1 million per week into one that was profitable on a continuous basis.

Clearer signage on the casino floor, new elevators connecting hotel rooms to the casino, additional restaurants and bars, increased entertainment, and better facilities and prizes for high-end players are just a few of the many noticeable enhancements Luxor has made.

Not at all what the skeptics had expected.

Back in June 2018, when the resort initially opened its doors on the site of the doomed-from-the-start Revel, no one could have expected its success. In reality, many individuals claimed that the “Revel curse” had doomed the new property from the start. It was difficult to argue differently six months later.

The skeptics, on the other hand, couldn’t have been more incorrect. Ocean Casino Resort’s earnings has reached $10 million for the seventh month in a row by January 2020, barely one year after Luxor Capital took over control.

Then, in May 2020, despite the fact that Ocean was still temporarily closed due to the coronavirus, like all of the other Atlantic City casinos, its interim license was upgraded to a permanent one. Furthermore, Ocean Casino Resort was the only casino in Atlantic City to make a profit in the third quarter of 2020 and to grow revenue year over year from 2019 to 2020.

However, now that Luxor Capital Group’s strong leadership and hard work have made a significant impact, Ocean Casino Resort is looking to expand even further. Ilitch Holdings, a Detroit-based company, recognizes Ocean’s promise and wants to be a part of its development.

Ilitch Holdings’ acquisition of a 50% stake in the resort is now complete.

After the Revel shuttered in 2014, Ilitch Holdings, which also owns the Motor City Casino in Detroit, explored buying the bankrupt Atlantic City facility to build a new casino. It didn’t pursue the concept, however, because to the expensive real estate taxes and utilities expenses, as well as the daunting job of having to overcome the link with the badly run Revel from the outset.

Despite being a big participant in several sectors in Detroit, Ilitch Holdings’ name did not surface in the headlines again until early this year as a corporation interested in joining the Atlantic City industry. After all, the stunning success of Ocean Casino Resort after Luxor Capital Group’s takeover had reawakened Ilitch Holdings’ interest and desire to get fully engaged.

As a result, Ilitch Holdings and Luxor Capital Group decided to split ownership equally, as I revealed in my June 17, 2021 piece for Michigan Online Casino, “Ilitch Holdings Has Plans To Make Big Waves In Atlantic City, Too.” However, state officials had to approve the conditions of the April 2021 pact before it could be consummated. Ilitch Holdings would also need to get a license to operate in New Jersey, which it has applied for.

On Oct. 14, the Division of Gaming Enforcement and the Casino Control Commission issued its preliminary approval to an interim casino license granted to an Ilitch Holdings affiliate, OCR Investments, LLC. Ilitch Holdings currently controls 50% of Ocean Casino Resort, and Luxor Capital Group owns the other 50%.

According to a PlayNJ.com post from October 14, 2021, Ilitch Holdings will pay up to $175 for its portion of Ocean Casino Resort ownership.

Background and qualifications of Ilitch Holdings

Many individuals in New Jersey may not know who Ilitch Holdings is, but that is definitely not the case in Detroit.

In 1999, the late Michael Ilitch launched the family-owned business. Although the motor city remains its headquarters, it has evolved into a transnational conglomerate throughout time.

The Motor City Casino in Detroit is owned entirely by Ilitch Holdings. It also owns the Tigers and Redwings, two important sports franchises in Detroit.

The Ocean Casino Resort in Atlantic City will be the company’s first foray into owning a casino in another state. The Ilitch family’s significant commercial expertise in sectors outside of Detroit, on the other hand, had to impress the NJ DGE and CCC. Little Caesars Pizza, Champion Foods, and Olympia Entertainment, for example, are all owned by the family.

What can players and visitors at Ocean Casino Resort anticipate now that Ilitch Holdings is involved?

Ocean Casino Resort, like its predecessor, the Revel, has made a concerted effort to portray itself as a high-end destination. The newly updated WOW players rewards program, as well as the recently established COVE for high-end slot players and LOFT for top-tier table players, are excellent examples.

This emphasis on luring players who can help the casino make the greatest money will continue. However, according to John Policicchio, a marketing officer at Motor City Casino, the Ilitch family sees New York City as a market worth pursuing more aggressively.

The addition of more rooms will be another important priority. Ocean Casino Resort expects to unveil 464 additional rooms, including 100 suites, in time for the major July 4 holiday weekend, according to Bruce Dall, president of Motor City Casino. The overall number of rooms will rise from 1,399 to around 1,860 as a result of this. More than $70 million will be spent on the project. It would, however, add 12 storeys to the current tower, three of which would be exclusively dedicated to suites.

Bill Callahan, Ocean Casino Resort’s senior vice president of hospitality and gaming, had the following to say regarding the room expansion project:

“Over the last year, Ocean has strived to improve its market position. We’re eager to see Ocean’s accomplishments progress. The capacity to fulfill rising lodging demand will infuse fresh vitality into the resort, from the gaming floor and award-winning restaurants to the resort’s famous nightlife and entertainment venues.”

In addition, the Ilitch family intends to spend another $105 million on debt repayment.

They have no plans to alter the name of the casino. It will continue to be known as Ocean Casino Resort.

The untimely departure of Terry Glebocki, the previous CEO of Ocean, is one major source of anxiety.

It’s unclear if the joint ownership permission influenced Glebocki’s decision to depart Ocean Casino Resort. However, neither Luxor or Ilitch officials could present a clear strategy specifying who would succeed her at a hearing before state regulators earlier this month.

Ocean Casino Resort rose from 6th to 3rd position in revenue generation among the nine Atlantic City casinos during Glebocki’s term as CEO.

However, given Ocean’s recent expansion and the addition of corporate reorganization and the resignation of the CEO to the mix, CCC Chairman James Plousis believes state authorities should keep a careful eye on the issue. Ocean Casino Resort was directed to promptly find a new CEO or similar leader. Financial accountability procedures that have been in place for a long time are still in place.

Conclusion and summary

Unfortunately, just as the welcome news that state authorities have agreed to provide Ilitch Holdings an interim license to act as its co-owner arrives, Ocean Casino Resort is faced with the arduous chore of finding a new CEO.

This news, as well as other major occurrences at this Atlantic City casino, will be followed and reported on by NJ Online Casino.

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