Jeff Hartmann signed on as interim CEO of Revel Entertainment in March and will depart the company when his six-month contract expires at the end of September. Casino Journal executive editor Charles Anderer spoke to Hartmann earlier this month about where the property stands after completing a Chapter 11 restructuring in May, its successful July slot loss rebate promotion which led to a 20 percent revenue increase for the month and cost cutting efforts which have included multiple rounds of layoffs. Here are some excerpts from the interview, which will run in the November issue of Casino Journal.
With the many steps you have taken over the past six months, would you say that Revel is on the road to profitability?
Hartmann: We’ve clearly made some inroads in terms of moving market share to Revel. We had to make a lot of hard decisions in terms of our expense structure and changing what the organization looked like when the property opened in 2012 versus the realities of today. We’ve made adjustments and reduced tens of millions of dollars of costs and we’re pretty optimistic that we’re going to get to profitability in the near term.
Gamblers Wanted, which guaranteed gamblers rebates in the form of free play awarded in 5 percent increments over 20 weeks for losses up to $100,000, was big news in the industry. How would you characterize its impact?
Hartmann: Clearly, the Gamblers Wanted promotion was successful. We worked closely with Randy Fine and the Fine Point Group. Revel has a great casino floor and the promotion really energized it. Gamblers Wanted told the gamblers, “We want you.” We also made product changes by adding a 24-hour restaurant, adding Asian food with the Pearl Lounge. Gamblers Wanted really re-launched Revel as a casino. Many consumers we spoke to indicated that at times they didn’t feel welcome at Revel and I we tried to dispel that with a big broad statement.
You couldn’t have been surprised when some gamblers challenged the legality of the promotion, but, on balance, would you say the vast majority of gamblers understood it?
Hartmann: Absolutely. We obviously don’t respond to specifics on legal issues, but in terms of our disclosure process at our players club booth and our overall messaging, we believe that the promotion was transparent. The overwhelming majority of our players understood it; it’s the kind of thing that has been happening in gaming for the last 15 years.