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New casino bankrupt: There goes Atlantic City? (+video)

New Jersey's newest casino is declaring bankruptcy. If the structured settlement works as planned, it will erase about two-thirds of its $1.5 billion in debt.

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David Rebuck, director of the state Division of Gaming Enforcement, said the Chapter 11 filing needs to happen.

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"The agreement between Revel and its lenders will allow for a necessary financial restructuring and improve the property's financial condition going forward," he said. "We see this as a positive step that will allow Revel to comprehensively address its financial needs while continuing normal business operations."

Revel officials have been reviewing their options in recent months as the Atlantic City market continued to decline and its own revenues remained stuck in neutral. DeSanctis said the company and its lenders decided that a prepackaged Chapter 11 would be the best way to improve its balance sheet by eliminating substantial debt and increasing the changes for growth.

It is the latest in a series of recent bankruptcies involving Atlantic City casinos. Trump Entertainment Resorts emerged in 2010 from the third Chapter 11 bankruptcy that it or its corporate predecessors had filed, and the Tropicana Casino and Resort was sold that same year out of bankruptcy court to billionaire Carl Icahn.

As part of the restructuring, some of Revel's lenders will provide approximately $250 million in debtor-in-possession financing, about $45 million of which constitutes new money commitments and approximately $205 million of which is pre-petition debt. No taxpayer funds will be used to finance the restructuring, the casinosaid.

The company didn't identify which lenders will be part of the filing; it said only that "a majority" of its lenders have agreed.

Revel opened in April as a potential game-changer, the first new casino built in Atlantic City since the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa opened in 2003.

Revel was designed as a destination resort, an ambitious, risky project in a declining market. It saw itself not as a casino resort but as a resort that happened to have a casino. But the distinction seemed to have been lost on many customers, who found its restaurants and hotel rooms pricey.

The project had to overcome numerous obstacles before its opening. Three key executives working on the project died in a Minnesota plane crash in July 2008; a worker pouring concrete was struck by lightning and killed in 2011.

The project ran out of money during the recession and had to stop construction halfway through. Morgan Stanley pulled out, taking a $1.2 billion loss on the project. It only got completed with the help of state tax incentives that were approved in February 2011.

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