Moffitt: 'We have been approached to do things in the Northeast [United States] and we didn't find anything that was attractive to us. And what attracted me to Revel was the project itself. I feel that Kevin DeSanctis is probably one of the most highly-respected people in gaming and I believe that he understands what's required to be a market leader.'
Neil Moffitt's Angel Management Group has become one of the biggest success stories in the entertainment and business world. The United Kingdom-born Moffitt, who is the company's CEO and founder, has been working in the entertainment industry since the early 1990s. Since then he has accomplished more than most people could in several lifetimes.
The man who UK's Billboard magazine named as one of the "top five most influential people in British music," and who has turned the Las Vegas nightlife scene into the extraordinary success it is today, has been paying visits to Atlantic City, New Jersey — among his many global destinations; he has projects cooking all over the world — over the past year or so.
Moffitt took time out of his very busy schedule to talk to Atlantic City Weekly from Las Vegas during a Friday morning phone call. The following are excerpts from the interview.
Have you spent much time in Atlantic City?
Yeah, I have actually. I've been going backwards and forwards for about a year now.
What was your initial reaction to the city when you first came in?
I think that it's more that we've been looking at the project that we're working on specifically and I felt that Revel, the standalone project, I felt is a game-changer for that market. I think that similarly to how people look to Las Vegas when the Mirage was built, I think that, you know, it steps into a new realm and I believe is going to bring a lot of new people to the market. Obviously we're a Las Vegas company so I compare the two and I think it has the opportunity to really find Atlantic City because when I first went there, it was a little bit of a culture shock coming from Las Vegas, as you can imagine. But then when I actually spent some time there and spent some time in competitors' casinos, I was pleasantly surprised and I feel that, you know, being involved in Revel is a very exciting piece of history for Atlantic City and I think will change how people look and perceive the market.
Do you see the potential in Atlantic City to become a nightlife mecca ala Vegas?
Well, I don't think Vegas redefined the wheel. I think that what happened with Vegas was that, you know, a whole new audience and demographic started attending Las Vegas. People forget that 10 years ago there was very little nightlife in this market and that has changed significantly and has now probably become the nightlife, food and beverage center of the world really. People come from all over the world now to get inspiration from Las Vegas. We have some of the most powerful nightlife companies here and probably the most powerful offerings here and, you know, now you get people from Dubai and Asia and Europe coming here to get inspiration.
Even Atlantic City venue operators I would imagine.
Ten years ago, there was no nightlife. I would say probably 10 years ago the nightlife in Las Vegas was similar to the nightlife in Atlantic City and the casinos here realized that, you know, this whole new audience that was attending wasn't necessarily coming just to [gamble]. They were coming to eat, have a good time, get away from it all and [were not] necessarily going to gamble. So how would they entertain them and how could they keep the offering fresh and new? That was when all the new investment came from all the new nightclubs and I see that Atlantic City is very similar in the fact that it's relied on its gaming offering for a very long time and now, you know, how do we attract a whole new, younger audience to the market? The only way to bring those people to market is through content and whether it be a concert or whether it be nightlife or whether it be food and beverage, dayclub, nightclub, etc. — that is part of the component of a younger demographic's requirements to go and stay in a casino for a weekend, so I think Revel realized that a long time ago and designed their casino around those very fundamentals.
Do you anticipate Revel attracting people from beyond the New Jersey/New York region?
I think that other people or other competitors in the Atlantic City market sort of dipped their toe in the water to bring people from other East Coast markets to Atlantic City and they had that market for a little while I think. Then, take New York as an example. New York nightlife was in the doldrums 10 years ago and even the New York nightlife, with the emergence of the Meat-packing District and, you know, very good quality food and beverage outlets have emerged in New York and nightlife has emerged in New York and people weren't necessarily compelled to go to Atlantic City with the emergence of New York. But I think that because the offerings were comparable, [people said] 'why would I sit in the car for three hours on a Friday night to get what I can get 10 blocks from my apartment?' Everything about Revel — if you took Revel and put it in the middle of the [Las Vegas] Strip and said, 'okay how well are you going to do to?' - it would compete with, you know, the monsters that sit on the strip. It would complete with Wynn, it would compete with the Bellagio, it would compete with CityCenter and Cosmo on a level playing field. So what I think Revel has done is, they've really given people the choice. Do you want to sit on a plane for six hours and fly to Las Vegas for two nights or would you just want to go down the road and have the same experience? I think from what I have seen in the market, unless I've missed something, Revel has really given the customer the choice. You know, sit on a place and get Las Vegas or get in the car for a couple of hours and get Las Vegas and I think that's where they stand out from everybody else is they have delivered a facility that within contains that true resort Las Vegas feeling, and I think that can only direct people out of their homes. And people will judge the product when they get there and see it and try it. But I think, along with everybody else that's involved in the project, I think that people are very confident that people will see it as a true alternative and the market leader in the Northeast.
Have you ever been approached about other projects or different projects in the Northeast and what made Atlantic City and Revel specifically so attractive for you to finally pull the trigger?
We have been approached to do things in the Northeast [United States] and we didn't find anything that was attractive to us. And what attracted me to Revel was the project itself. I feel that Kevin DeSanctis is probably one of the most highly-respected people in gaming and I believe that he understands what's required to be a market leader. I mean the guy opened the Mirage so he's been at that cutting edge before. I think he understood the Northeast and he understood that he wasn't just trying to manage the customer base that already exists. DeSanctis was being very ambitious in reaching out to a whole new audience and creating a product that's never been seen before and I believe in Kevin and I believe in Revel and therefore I believe that we're going to be greatly successful. And I also felt that they have a true Las Vegas mentality by trying not to just put a Band-Aid on something. They've master planned the whole project and brought some very good operators in as partners and everybody is pushing in the same direction and it's not only just great nightlife there, you know, there's fantastic restauranteurs who are going in there. So I think the ingredients are something that we would have been foolish to turn down.
Have you known Kevin DeSanctis for a long time? Did he reach out to you personally to get involved with the project?
Kevin and Michael Garrity reached out to me. ... Kevin has a fantastic relationship with MGM, who we have a very strong relationship with so that was a big reason for me to go there.
You talked about having the vibe of Vegas in Revel. What are some of those characteristics for people that have never experienced Vegas before?
Well, if you take similarities, the way that they've designed the casino, you know, the casino is designed for nonstop action. The one thing that I felt was lacking in Atlantic City was, you know it was weird to me — it was extremely busy at 10pm and completely empty at 2am. The restaurants were all closed. The nightclubs are only open two nights a week. Yet the casino floor seemed relatively busy. I never understood that. I think that what was Kevin and Michael's vision is that 24/7 action, whether it be a huge concert in the concert hall, which is probably one of the most amazing halls I've been in a long time, whether it be a party going on at the beach, whether it be a nightclub, whether it be the late-night restaurant offerings, whether it be a burlesque show, it's just rather, you know, there's a lot of razzmatazz in that hotel. There's a lot of sizzle and there's a lot of 24/7 going to be going on there, whether it be during the day or during the night. They're looking to offer entertainment 24 hours a day and I don't see any of their competitors in the market doing the same at this point in time. Maybe they'll change and evolve, but at this point in time I think Revel are the only people out there that are going to deliver that and that's the same thing we can get at Vegas. Vegas is a Disneyland for adults. I think that Revel is on a par with all of them here, so it's an exciting time for the city.
You operate 15 nightlife properties in Vegas. How many properties will AMG operate in Revel?
We are keeping that under the hat at the moment, but we have several offerings in Revel that we will be operating and not only will we be operating those venues, we are also looking to do various large-scale events in and around the hotel.
You have major experience with music festivals in the past, in the U.K. and elsewhere. Do you have a vision of maybe merging some of that with Revel?
I think there's definitely an opportunity, given the real estate that Revel sits on and the facilities that sit around Revel. I think it would be something that we would definitely explore, doing larger-scale events combining the hotel. So that is something we are currently exploring, yes.
You grew up in the U.K., is that correct?
Yeah, I was born in the U.K. and went to school in the Middle East.
How did you get there from the U.K.?
My mother decided to take me there for school because that's where my father was working at the time. So I was there from 10-18.
Where did you study?
At the Continental School in Jedda. ... I was in school a long time ago so we studied an English curriculum [and] then I left school at 18 and went back to the UK.
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“When I look at Atlantic City, maybe I just see something different,” says DeSanctis. “What I see, when you go out on our Sky Garden or you go out on our deck, that’s sort of the Atlantic City that I think about. We have this incredible geographic location. We have 47 million people within a six-hour drive of this place, and when we think about options from a resort perspective in the Northeast, there really aren’t any. "
ATLANTIC CITY — The pulse of Atlantic City's heartbeat just got a jump-start. History was made on Monday, April 2, as Revel, Atlantic City's 12th casino — and much, much more — officially opened its doors to the public after six years of planning, building and conceptualizing. The energy inside and outside the sprawling property was palpable all day and into the night as guests marveled at the beautifully designed areas inside the state's second tallest building. Revel executives and staffers also celebrated — albeit a little on the tired side after a long day's (not to mention months' and years') work — and agreed it was a very exciting day not only for Revel, but for Atlantic City and the state of New Jersey. The day started with a sunrise toast — with Revel staffers and CEO Kevin DeSanctis on hand — and from then on people and more people flooded in and out of Atlantic City's latest attraction, several of them guests staying at the new resort during its preview period, which will lead up to the official Memorial Day weekend grand opening. Ivan Kane's Royal Jelly debuted its burlesque show — featuring live music and burlesque dancing — around 8pm and the...
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