Ocean Casino Resort is on the upswing! During the last few months of 2018, the casino hotel that opened on June 27 of that year on the site of the former Revel was in dire straights.
Many people predicted that it would not survive another year and was destined for the same fate as its predecessor. And naysayers who were convinced that nine casinos were too many for Atlantic City to handle were saying “I told you so.” They could not have been more wrong.
What a difference a year makes
October 2019 marks the fourth consecutive month that Ocean Casino Resort has reported double-digit gains in total gaming revenue. Its best month was August when the casino won $24.1 million.
These figures contrast dramatically to the property’s position after its first six months of existence when state gaming regulators reported that it was $23 million in the red.
A tough first six months
When Ocean Casino Resort (then called Ocean Resort Casino) applied for its license, its Chief Financial Officer told the Casino Control Commission that the resort expected to receive a 10.5 percent of the market during its first year, including $292 million in gaming revenue and $121 million in non-gaming revenue. Instead, total gambling revenue for the year was only $101 million, with $8.4 million of that total coming from the William Hill Sportsbook, not from casino gambling.
Furthermore, during each full month of 2018 that Ocean Resort Casino was open, when its monthly revenue was compared to that of the other eight Atlantic City casinos, every month except August and November, Ocean Resort Casino ranked dead last.
Ocean’s future looked bleak
Then Luxor Capital Group saved the day
Early in 2019 ownership changed hands. The new owner, Luxor Capital Group, a NYC-based hedge fund, assumed control and not only appointed new executives, but promised to invest $70 million in the property.
Name change to Ocean Casino Resort
One of the problems that needed to be addressed in a hurry was a lack of clear identity. Luxor Capital got the ball rolling by changing the name of the property to Ocean Casino Resort on April 10. The reversal of the order of the second and third words represented the owner’s intention to promote the property as first and foremost, a casino.
According to Diane Spiers, vice president of advertising and marketing, sixty percent of the market was not even aware of the Ocean brand and still thinking of the casino hotel as the Revel, with all the associated negative connotations. “Now, consumers have confidence in us. We have definitely turned that corner.”
David G. Schwartz, associate vice provost at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas and former director of the University’s Center for Gaming Research, agrees. According to a November 1, 2019 article on www.pressofatlantic city.com entitled “Ocean Casino Will Be in Atlantic City for a Long Time,” Ocean was at a big disadvantage because it is not connected to a network of other casino operators. Therefore, Schwartz was convinced that creating an identity that resonates with customers needed to be one of this casino’s top priorities. Schwartz feels that Ocean Casino Resort has gone a “good job” along that line as well as in incorporating sports betting and online gaming into its overall identity.
The casino has also needed to distinguish itself, and it has,” Schwartz stated.
“Judging from the casino’s marketing, it looks like the management is making the most of the property itself, including its ocean views, which is another point of difference with casinos, not just in Atlantic City, but throughout the region.”
Better entertainment, increased promotions, revamped player’s club
That’s what players wanted from this casino, and now they are getting it!
As Luxor Capital realized, the name change was a good start, but a lot more had to be done to change players’ and potential players’ perceptions of this casino resort for the better.
The lack of a clear identity wasn’t the only problem.
- Not enough quality entertainment
- Shortage of special events and promotions like prize drawings and holiday celebrations that bring big crowds to the casino
- Need for lower cost dining options and special discounts so diners would get more bang for their buck
I am delighted to report that Ocean Casino Resort has not only addressed all of these problems but has gone the extra mile to wow anyone walking through its doors. Regardless of whether you are an established player or first-time visitor, after seeing the transformation, it’s impossible not to be impressed.
So if you haven’t been to 500 Boardwalk in a while or at all, it’s time put any negative impressions you may have had previously out of your mind. This is a place worth spending time at and coming back to frequently.
Top entertainment lineup
At Ocean Casino Resort, the fun never stops. Here is a sample of what’s on tap now and in the weeks to come.
Upcoming entertainment at Ovation Hall
- Fri., November 8 – The O’Jays, Tickets starting at $45
- Fri., November 15 – Paul Anka, Anka Sings Sinatra, Tickets starting at $62
- Sat., November 23 – Alice Cooper, Tickets starting at $39
- Fri., December 13 – Julio Iglesias, Tickets starting at $99
- Sat., December 21 – Straight No Chaser, Tickets starting at $39.50
For tickets, visit ticketmaster.com or Ocean Casino Resort’s Box Office.
- 1927 Lounge and Speakeasy
Play video games while listening to DJs play the latest hits.
Hours: 6-10 p.m. daily in the Lounge and 9 p.m.-4 a.m. weekends in the Speakeasy.
- Villain & Saint
Quizzo Trivia Night every Thursday from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Dining Deals and Happy Hours
If you’re traveling to any of the Atlantic City casinos, then chances are you will want to spend at least the better part of the day or evening there. So it’s only a matter of time before you get hungry and thirsty. But satisfying the urge shouldn’t have to cost an arm and a leg.
Don’t worry. At Ocean Casino Resort, it won’t. In fact, this place now gives you so many hard to pass up dining deals and Happy Hours, if you have any problem at all, it will be which to choose.
- Distrito: $2 tacos and $2 margaritas
Taco Tuesday has been upgraded. Now you enjoy $2 tacos and $2 margaritas from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. any day of the week!
- Villain & Saint: $19.95 Lobster Special and Late-night Pizza
The Lobster Special is prominently featured on the menu and available anytime. Or enjoy artisanal flatbread pizza while listening to local rock bands Fri. and Sat. from 11 p.m. to midnight.
- Café 500: $9.95 Steak & Eggs
Early risers looking for a hearty breakfast should check out this deal: Steak & eggs with home fries and toast for only $9.99. Available mornings until 11 a.m.
- Café 500: $24.99 Prime Rib Dinner
At $24.99, this dinner special is also a steal. The meal also includes a baked potato, garden salad, and rolls and butter. It’s available Fri.-Sun. only from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.
The following restaurants and bars have Happy Hours when they offer drink and bar bite specials.
- American Cut: 5-7 p.m. Tues.-Fri.
- Villain & Saint: 4-7 p.m. Fri. and 4-10 p.m. Sun., Mon., and Thurs.
- Amada: 5-7 p.m. Sun., Mon., and Fri.
- Café 500: $5 Philly Beef Special, $3 Philly Beef Fries, and half-price NJ Brewed Draft Beer Fri. at the bar 5 p.m. to 1 a.m.
- High Water Wine Bar (Mezzanine level): Wine Down Wednesday 5-7 p.m. featuring half-price tap-wines and complimentary food
Ocean Casino Restaurant Week and 50 Bites
You will have to wait until March for the next Atlantic City Restaurant Week. But Ocean Casino Resort’s own dining celebration is ongoing right now. Restaurant Week started on Sun., Nov. 3 and wraps up Fri., Nov. 15. Friday, Nov. 8 was supposed to be the last day, but due to popular demand, the offer is now being extended for another full week. Here are your choices:
- Villain & Saint
- Zhen Bang Noodle & Sushi
- American Cut
- Dolce Mare
Dinner at each restaurant includes appetizer, main course, and dessert from a select menu. Beverages, taxes, and gratuities are extra.
Unfortunately, after Friday, Nov. 15, Restaurant Week at Ocean Casino Resort will be over, but another great money-saving dining option, 50 Bites (with more than 50 restaurants participating), is ongoing through Nov. 27. The participating restaurants at Ocean Casino Resort include:
- Pit Boss, BBQ & Fish Fry: Pulled Chicken and Mac Slider
- Topgolf Swing Suite: TG Burger Slider
- Villain & Saint: Cheddar Biscuit
- Zhen Bang Noodle & Sushi: Steamed Shrimp and Chive Dumpling with Sweet Soy & Slivered Chives.
If you haven’t purchased your 50 Bites pass yet, you can do so from acweekly.com/50bites or in person at the Tennessee Beer Hall at 133 South Tennessee Avenue, Atlantic City The cost is only $25.
Ocean Casino Resort rolls out WOW Rewards
In September, Casino Player Magazine named Ocean Casino Resort as the Atlantic City casino with the best comps. Clearly, Ocean wants to hold onto that title for next year because on October 1, the property unveiled a brand new loyalty rewards program called Ocean WOW Rewards.
According to Chief Marketing Officer Mike Donovan:
“We’ve reimagined what it means to be part of a loyalty program. Guests can now earn special perks and privileges that extend beyond Ocean. We’ve partnered with national brands to give our members more opportunities to take advantage of exclusive benefits and experiences–whether that’s driving a brand new Mercedes-Benz®, a trip to a tropical island, or a CARNIVAL® cruise.”
Here are some of the provisions of the new program:
- Opportunity to earn both comp dollars and Tier Points based on play. Players can redeem their comp dollars at a 1:1 ratio for on-property dining, shows, and hotel stays or at a 2:1 ratio for free slot play.
Comp dollars expire after six months of inactivity (three months for Blue level cardholders).
- Slot players can earn same day free play.
- Existing players will maintain the tier they had going into the program with the opportunity to move up based on play. Otherwise, the period for earning Tier Points runs from October 1 to September 30 yearly. The higher your tier, the greater your rewards.
Ocean has added a top tier, Chairman status, for players who earn 300,000 Tier Points or more. The other four tiers are: Black (75,000 – 299,999 points); Platinum (15,000 – 74,999 points); Gold (3,000 – 14,999 points); and Blue (0 – 2,999 points).
- Veterans receive an automatic upgrade to Gold Tier and a 10% discount on room rates.
For more information about Ocean WOW Rewards and a complete list of benefits and program rules click here.
Ocean Casino Resort’s Future
Ocean Casino Resort is to be commended for the sweeping improvements it has made so far in 2019. But what are its prospects for the future? Will Ocean Casino Resort still be here for all of 2020 and for many years to come? Its management says you can bet on it. Ocean still has a ways to go, but the future looks bright.
Even so, Ocean still has to make up a lot of ground before it can be considered a long-term profitable operation. To date, the property has reported quarterly positive gross operating profits only once. That statistic will become twice when the 2019 third-quarter profits are released in late November.
Mike Donovan, senior vice president and chief marketing officer, summed up where Ocean is now and where it plans to be in the future with the following comments:
“We’ve been laser-focused on how do we attract a casino customer and how do we get slot customers to make us their home. I think we’ve done that in a lot of respects and we still have a lot of work to go.”
“We’re excited to post continued strong numbers even after we get out of summertime. And we’re going to continue that momentum for the next year because we’re constantly refining what we’re doing here.”
“If you look at our numbers, they speak for themselves. We’re going to keep doing what we’re doing and build on the success that we’ve had this year. Ocean is going to be here for a long time.”