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June 16, 2016

Reopening of Revel casino delayed by sewage dispute

Atlantic City Sewerage Company plugged resort's pipes months ago for not paying bill

The latest delay in the revival of Revel – the failed casino and resort on the end of the Atlantic City Boardwalk – is caused by toilets that can't flush.

Human waste is backed up in outside sewage mains leading from the building, which is the second tallest in New Jersey with 6.2 million square feet of space, according to The Press of Atlantic City.

Inflatable plugs, each about the size of a basketball, remained in place Wednesday, stopping the flow in the mains beneath New Jersey Avenue. The pipes lead to a wastewater plant on the way into town on Absecon Boulevard.

In a pay dispute, the Atlantic City Sewerage Company plugged Revel’s pipes months ago.

Related article: Union voting on Atlantic City casino strike authorization

Meanwhile, crews working to reopen Revel – owner Glenn Straub has promised to rename it but has yet to announce what that name will be – have been using portable toilets as they spruce up the property.

Utility crews were on stand-by Wednesday to literally unplug the pipes once unpaid bills were satisfied.

“It’s gonna be a gusher,” utility worker John Clark told The Press.

“It’s the first time we cut off a casino,” utility worker Damon Mitchell told The Press. “It’s gonna come flying out 100 miles per hour.”

Related article: Developer says Revel reopening June 15

Straub, who had disputed his bill but apparently worked out an agreement, told reporters the plugs should come out Thursday.

Straub initially had said the building would open on Wednesday, though he told PhillyVoice during a call last week that didn’t seem likely.

A lawyer for Straub did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday morning.

The city carried out many inspections Wednesday, but it remains unclear what other reviews are still pending. The city must agree to a certificate of occupancy.

Straub plans on reopening just the hotel at first, though he has spit-balled all sorts of plans for the huge building, from creating a think tank for geniuses to housing Syrian refugees.

As well as opening 900 of the hotel’s 1,600 hotel rooms, he had said he planned to open a rope climbing course (which is actively being installed), a zip line, cabanas, a 13-story bike course, surfing, windsurfing and more.

None of that has happened.

Straub paid $82 million for the building, which cost $2.2 billion to build and was finished with the help of New Jersey tax credits. That price works out to about a nickel on the dollar.

Revel opened in 2012 and was marketed more as a resort than a casino. Gamblers took note and avoided the place.

The casino, burdened with a staggering debt load, went bankrupt twice and shut down in September 2014.

It was one of four Atlantic City casinos that closed that year.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.