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Owner of former Revel casino sues New Jersey over licensing

Posted November 29

— The owner of New Jersey's former Revel casino is channeling his inner Donald Trump, hoping to follow the President-elect as an Atlantic City casino mogul.

Glenn Straub is parroting Trump, of whom he has often spoken admiringly, in vowing to "Make Atlantic City great again." And he's showing a Trump-like love of litigation as he sues New Jersey gambling regulators to try to get out of having to obtain a casino license for his soon-to-reopen resort.

Straub says he will be nothing more than a landlord renting space to a casino operator, and doesn't need a costly casino license.

He filed a lawsuit Monday against the state Casino Control Commission, asking a judge to force the commission to agree that he doesn't need a full-blown casino license.

"Mr. Straub has spent a lot of time, effort and money in trying to make Atlantic City great again," his lawyer, David Stefankiewicz said. "He remains ready, willing and able to open the casino."

The lawyer said the commission is putting Straub through needless red tape, as Atlantic City's casino industry continues to crumble.

"Instead of creating roadblock after roadblock, the agency should be doing everything in its power to facilitate getting this casino opened," the attorney said. "Doing business here should not be this hard."

The commission had not yet received the lawsuit and had no immediate comment on it Tuesday.

Straub has two matters pending before the agency: a petition asking for a ruling that he does not need a full casino license, and an application for a license, should the petition not be approved.

He has said for months that he should not have to obtain the same level of licensing that other casino owners have because he intends to be a hands-off owner. His lawsuit says Straub "intends to be the lessor of portions of ... Revel for use as a casino/hotel and have no involvement in the casino/hotel's operation other than as a lessor."

Stefankiewicz said Straub plans to do what thousands of other property owners do.

"Does it matter what the nature of the business being conducted is?" he asked. "Does a mall owner control the business of its tenants like Macy's or Dick's or GAP or Annie's or any other tenant occupied space? Surely, being a lessor of a property where, among other things, a casino is being operated does not mean the lessor controls or is involved in the tenant's business in any way."

Straub has hired a management team to run the property, which is being rebranded under the name Ten. It plans a spring 2017 opening, assuming the necessary licenses and approvals are obtained before then.

Revel, which cost $2.4 billion to build, shut down in September 2014 after little over two years without having come close to turning a profit. Straub bought it from bankruptcy court for $82 million, or about 5 cents on the dollar in April 2015.

Last summer, Straub unveiled ambitious plans for Ten, including a rope-climbing course; a zip-line ride; an e-sports lounge where fans of online games can follow skilled players; 13 beachfront cabanas, and the conversion of part of the parking garage into a 13-story bicycle endurance course. Surfing, wind surfing and scuba lessons will be available on the beach, and a day-club (different than the former HQ club that operated at Revel) will open, along with a 32-room spa, he said.

Other plans include a reopened nightclub; a comedy club; and a section of white-sand beach called Nikki Beach, including a volleyball court; seven indoor and outdoor pools; horse rides on the beach' virtual reality machines; a rock-climbing wall and skydiving machine, and three 75-seat movie theaters.

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Follow Wayne Parry at http://twitter.com/WayneParryAC

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