The Reinvention Of Atlantic City Is In Full Swing As NJ Casinos Diversify Offerings

Atlantic City casinos rebounding
Atlantic City has had its share of ups and downs over the years. But the past several years may have been the worst the city and its residents have experienced.

This includes the devastation of Hurricane Sandy in 2012 and economic havoc that has seen five casinos close their doors, eliminating thousands of jobs in the process.

Circumstances have grown so bad that the city has been taken over by an emergency manager in order to stave off bankruptcy. But if Atlantic City has proven anything, it is that the city is resilient. Even though it appeared to be down for the count, Atlantic City is once again grabbing the top rope and pulling itself back up.

There’s a lot going on in Atlantic City at the moment.

Bolstered by New Jersey online gambling and industry contraction, the operational casinos in Atlantic City are producing revenue not seen in years. This has led to plenty of reinvestment by these casinos and has triggered a new round of capital investment in the city at large.

Smart money heads to the Jersey Shore

Atlantic City has never had trouble finding people willing to spend money. But new investors are no longer throwing good money after bad (like the ridiculous idea that was Revel). Investors are looking to end Atlantic City’s days of being a one-trick pony.

The city’s remaining casino properties are not only reinvesting; they’re doing so in new and unique ways. Atlantic City casinos are no longer willing to rely exclusively on gaming.

On top of that, shuttered casinos are reopening or being repurposed. In the case of Trump Plaza, the property is being demolished so it’s no longer an eyesore. And new, non-gaming entertainment options are popping up along The Boardwalk.

The city has a long way to go before it can once again lay claim to being a destination resort town. But it is on the right track. As crazy as it sounds — especially for someone looking out an Atlantic City hotel window right now — the city’s best days could be ahead of it.

Non-gaming investment in Atlantic City

As Atlantic City reinvents itself, gaming will still be a huge piece of the pie. But it’s no longer the only piece.

Most of the non-gaming options investors are favoring tie in nicely with the environment the city’s casino properties are trying to create. That is of a family-friendly vacation destination that also has gambling.

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Showboat goes millennial

The Showboat reopened as a non-gaming hotel in 2016.Its new owner, Philadelphia real estate developer Bart Blatstein, has serious plans to bring some exciting new entertainment options to the property.

In years past, that would have meant a casino. But Blatstein is taking Showboat in a different direction and is trying to appeal to a younger crowd. He aims to turn Showboat into a “millennial magnet” on the weekends, with plans to convert 150,000 square feet of the property into a family-friendly activity center.

Central to the project is a 3,000-square-foot esports arena that will replace the old House of Blues. But the change will bring in plenty of other indoor and outdoor activities too.

Inside will feature esports competitions, board games, video games, cosplay and anime, and educational seminars. Outside, Showboat will boast a sandlot beer garden for hosting live music, movies, and family entertainment.

In addition to the Showboat project, Blatstein has added several other parcels of Atlantic City real estate to his portfolio. This includes the Pier Shops, which he overhauled and updated.

Stockton University has multiple irons in the fire

Before it came under the stewardship of Blatstein, Stockton University purchased the Showboat. Stockton planned to turn the former casino into its Atlantic City campus.

Deed restrictions prevented this from happening, which led to the sale to Blatstein. Even though Stockton University struck out on building at Showboat, it still has designs on an Atlantic City campus.

The school plans to call this campus the Atlantic City Gateway, seen in the promotional video below:

Stockton is also involved a second project in the city. It’s in the early planning stages of turning part of Bader Field, a municipal airport that closed in 2006, into a marine science center.

Family entertainment at former Atlantic Club

The former Atlantic Club, which shuttered in January 2014, is also preparing for a new lease on life. Current owners R&R Development Group are considering turning the property into a 100,000-square-foot water park.

New Jersey casino investment

On the gaming front, Atlantic City casinos are dabbling in innovative technology. They are building on the successes they’ve seen from adding online gambling to their suite of offerings.

Four casinos have installed GameCo skill-based machines on their slot floors. And Resorts, Golden Nugget, and Pala are planning to add virtual sports to their online casinos.

In addition to launching new products and platforms, Atlantic City’s casinos are working on updating and upgrading their properties to enhance the experience for their guests.

Minarets will be replaced by guitars

Hard Rock International didn’t just buy the shuttered Trump Taj Mahal from Carl Icahn to reopen it. The company bought the casino with the intention of completely overhauling the outdated property.

According to Hard Rock, every last vestige of the Taj will be wiped clean. The property will be completely transformed into a modern destination casino, with Hard Rock’s usual rock-themed branding.

Tropicana upgrades amenities

In the past few years, Tropicana Atlantic City has spent $90 million upgrading its property. Last year, it renovated rooms and its entrance. And this year it’s a new poker room and a number of new dining options that aim to capture tourist dollars.

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Steve Ruddock


Steve covers nearly every angle of online poker in his job as a full-time freelance poker writer. His primary focus is the developing legal and legislative picture for regulated US online poker and gambling.