There are 8 casinos in Atlantic City. The hotels offered by these resorts range from 5-star luxury to basic economy. Prices during the week are substantially lower than weekends. The best nights in terms of price are usually Sunday through Wednesday. Thursday may be moderately expensive compared to early weekdays. Saturday is by far the most expensive night of the week in Atlantic City, followed by Friday.
Atlantic City has seen the opening of 12 casino properties since gambling was legalized in the late 1970s.
Below are profiles of five of those casinos which have since shut their doors.
The Atlantic Club Casino Hotel (closed Jan. 13, 2014)
The Atlantic Club Casino Hotel was actually Atlantic City’s original Golden Nugget.
The property opened as The Golden Nugget Hotel & Casino in 1980. It was one of the smallest casinos in the city, but by 1983, it was the top grossing.
Golden Nugget owner Steve Wynn sold the casino for $440 million to Bally Manufacturing in 1987 and the name changed to Bally’s Grand Hotel and Casino.
Hilton Hotels Corporation bought Bally and renamed the property Atlantic City Hilton in 1998.
In 2005, Resorts International Holdings bought the casino. It ran Resorts Atlantic City and the Atlantic City Hilton for the next four years as a single entity called Atlantic City Hilton and Resorts Atlantic City.
In June 2011, the Hilton name was removed and it became the ACH Casino Resort. In February 2012, it was rebranded as a locals casino and renamed The Atlantic Club Casino Hotel. By the end of the year, the parent company of online gaming giant PokerStars entered into discussion to buy the property. Its eye was on legalized online gambling in New Jersey. A purchase agreement was struck in January 2013, but PokerStars pulled out after having difficulty obtaining a casino license.
Caesars Entertainment then sold to TJM Properties in 2014. TJM made plans to reopen it as a non-gaming property. The company announced in 2017 another developer would be purchasing the property and turning it into an indoor waterpark. The financing for this project ultimately fell through.
Revel (closed Sept. 2, 2014)
In April 2006, Morgan Stanley bought the property across from the Showboat Casino Hotel for $70 million. A company called Revel Entertainment came in to develop and operate a casino. In 2007, it revealed plans for a $2 billion casino hotel with two-700-foot towers. The plan was to finish construction by 2010.
However, the project ran into major construction and financing issues. The owners pressed the local government for tax breaks and sought outside financing to help finish the project. The opening date was pushed back several times and Revel finally opened in April 2012.
The property featured a 130,000 square foot casino. Amenities included 13 restaurants, a 32,000-square-foot spa, 55,000 square feet of retail space, 1,400 hotel rooms, two theaters, three nightclubs, a day club, and five pool areas.
Revel filed for bankruptcy around a year later and shut down on Sept. 2, 2014.
Florida developer Glenn Straub bought it out of bankruptcy court for $82 million in 2015. Straub has had difficulties obtaining the necessary state and local permits to reopen. He rebranded the property TEN, but pushed back reopening dates several times.
Straub maintains he is going to lease out gaming operations to a third party and should not be required to obtain a gaming license. Atlantic City’s Casino Control Commission disagrees and has ordered Straub to apply for a license. Straub was still in the midst of appealing that decision in the second quarter of 2017.
Showboat Atlantic City (Closed Aug. 31, 2014)
The Showboat Hotel, Casino and Bowling Center opened in March 1987 on land leased from Resorts International right beside where the soon-to-be Trump Taj Mahal was under construction. The Showboat featured a 60,000-square-foot casino and a 60-lane bowling alley.
A 1995 renovation brought in a Mardi Gras theme5. Three years later, Harrah’s Entertainment, which is now Caesars Entertainment, bought the Showboat’s parent company and took ownership.
The bowling alley became a buffet in 2001. In 2003, Showboat built a new hotel tower and remodeled the original. It also constructed a third hotel tower. But by June 2014, Caesars Entertainment made plans to close down the Showboat. The company looked to sell, but after failing to find a suitable buyer, the Showboat shuttered on Aug. 31, 2014.
In December of that year, Richard Stockton College bought the property with plans to turn it into a college campus. They later sold it to Philadelphia developer Bart Blatstein, who reopened it as a non-gaming hotel in July 2016.
Trump Plaza (closed Sept. 16, 2014)
The $210 million Harrah’s at Trump Plaza opened up as the biggest casino in Atlantic City history on May 14, 1984. It was a joint partnership between Donald Trump and Holiday Inn’s gaming division Harrah’s. It originally featured 614 rooms, seven restaurants, a 750-seat showroom, and a 60,000 square foot casino.
Competitor Hilton was soon denied a casino license on its $320 million Atlantic City Marina casino project under construction nearby. Trump came in and bought out Hilton, finished construction and opened it up as Trump Castle. Harrah’s sued Trump, claiming a conflict of interest. Trump bought out Harrah’s interest in Harrah’s at Trump Plaza and renamed it Trump Plaza.
Trump continued building an empire in Atlantic City over the next decade, buying up existing casinos and construction projects. However, when he opened up the even larger Trump Taj Mahal in 1990, business at Trump Plaza suffered.
The property went through a bankruptcy in 1992. Trump’s publicly-traded Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts ultimately gained ownership. A new East Tower opened in early 1996 as did a connection to the new Trump World’s Fair.
In 2011, with Trump almost completely divested in the company, Trump Entertainment Resorts announced it was looking to sell Trump Plaza or find a financing partner for a new renovation. At least one deal to sell fell through. By July 2014, the company said it would soon shut Trump Plaza down.
In August 2014, Trump filed a lawsuit demanding the property remove his name. On Sept. 16, 2014, Trump Plaza shut down.
Trump Taj Mahal (closed Oct. 10, 2016)
Construction of the property began in 1983 by Resorts International, owner the Resorts Casino Hotel next door. Resorts International had already sunk almost $500 million into construction when the company reportedly ran out of money to continue.
Donald Trump swooped in and entered into a battle with TV host Merv Griffin for control of the company. The battled ended in 1998 with Griffin ultimately taking over Resorts International and selling the Taj Mahal to Trump.
Trump raised the money to buy the property and finish construction through the sale of high-interest junk bonds.
Trump finished construction and Trump Taj Mahal opened on April 2, 1990. The property featured a 120,000 square feet casino, which claimed to be the largest in the world at the time.
Within 15 months of opening, the property went through bankruptcy and bondholders took a 50 percent interest. Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts took control in 1996, and the property remained the top grossing casino Atlantic City for the better part of a decade.
Trump Taj Mahal came close to closing in 2014 when Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts went through its own bankruptcy proceedings and other Trump-named Atlantic City casinos shut down. Ultimately, billionaire Tropicana owner Carl Icahn took control. Icahn planned to invest $100 million into the property, but ended up mired in a labor dispute.
Unable to settle, Trump Taj Mahal was shut down Monday, Oct. 10, 2016.
In March 2017, Hard Rock International finalized a $50 million purchase of the property. A month later the company announced plans to spend $375 million renovating. It intends to reopen as the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City in the summer of 2018.
Hard Rock International has since upped the renovation figure to $500 million. The company announced it would reopen the property on Memorial Day weekend in 2018.
Atlantic City History
New Jersey voters amended the State Constitution in 1976 to allow casino style gambling. It became the second state after Nevada to legalize casinos. They were restricted to Atlantic City. No other parts of the state could build casinos.
On May 28, 1978, Resorts International opened as the first casino in Atlantic City. There are currently 12 hotel casinos located in the resort city. Borgata is by far the biggest winner in terms of casino revenue. It was built in 2003. Only one casino has been built since Borgata. Revel opened in March 2012. It fell into bankruptcy within a year after it failed to attract gamblers with its attempt to be a resort first and casino second.
New Jersey has fallen on hard times as neighboring state have legalized casinos. Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun began drawing gamblers from New York City in 1992. Today, casinos are now found in all states that border New Jersey. This has forced New Jersey out of the second place spot in terms of gaming revenue. Pennsylvania now has that honor.
New Jersey legalized sports betting in January 2012 after voters passed a nonbinding referendum instructing the New Jersey Legislature to pass it. The major sports leagues took issue with this. New Jersey was not exempted under the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA). Even Delaware, which was exempted under PASPA, lost its own fight with the sports leagues in 2009 and was forced to only offer parlay cards.
The fight between New Jersey and the sports leagues is still being heard by the courts. In the meantime, New Jersey legalized fantasy sports betting in April 2013. This action was not challenged by the sports leagues. Fantasy sports betting has is not live in any Atlantic City casino.
Governor Christie signed online gambling into law on February 26, 2013. This legalized online poker and casino games in the State. Any player located within New Jersey at the time of login will be able to play interactive real money games.
Governor Christie had twice vetoed legislation before finally signing it into law. In March 2011, Governor Christie outright vetoed similar legislation after citing that he felt it would take a change to the New Jersey Constitution to allow gambling outside of Atlantic City, regardless of where the actual servers were located.
On February 7, 2013, Governor Christie apparently changed his mind. While he still vetoed the bill in front of him, it was only a conditional one. He instructed the legislature to raise the tax rate from 10% to 15% and add more funds to the problem gambling services provided under the law. The legislature approved his wishes.