NJ Officials Still Deciding What To Do With Former Playboy Casino Fund

Written By David Danzis on August 11, 2023
casino chips with playboy casino logo

State gambling regulators pushed off making a decision on what is going to happen with whatever remains of funds dedicated to cashing chips from the long-defunct Playboy Hotel and Casino.

On Wednesday, the New Jersey Casino Control Commission delayed ruling on what should be done with whatever remains from an $875,000 account created decades ago for redeeming casino chips from the short-lived Atlantic City casino. The matter was adjourned during the public meeting without any explanation.

According to The Press of Atlantic City, the commission chairman said there are still “things that needed to be worked out.”

NJ gambling officials even regulate long-closed Atlantic City casinos

Last month, the NJ Division of Gaming Enforcement issued an emergency order closing the fund. In his July 7 memo, DGE Director David Rebuck wrote that the action was necessary to preserve “public peace, health, safety, morals, good order and general welfare.”

Specifically, Rebuck said:

“I am issuing this emergency order to prevent fraudulent claims on the chip redemption fund, which was intended only to compensate Playboy customers and was not intended for redemptions by chips subsequently acquired by other persons. Such fund was also not intended as a means to redeem chips that were supposed to have been destroyed but were not.”

It is not clear from either the NJDGE order or the NJCCC’s posted agenda for the Aug. 9 meeting where the remaining funds are to go or how much money is still being held by the state.

Backstory to Playboy casino account

The Playboy casino ceased operations in 1989 after state regulators denied the company’s ownership a gaming license. As a result, an account was created to compensate customers with outstanding Playboy chips. The account was funded through an $875,000 deposit made in 1989 by Elsinore, a part-owner of the Boardwalk casino, along with Playboy Enterprises.

The NJ Department of the Treasury has been administering the account for nearly 40 years. No time limit was ever placed on Playboy chip redemption.

Rebuck’s memo says four decades is “more than sufficient time for actual Playboy gamblers to have redeemed any chips or other instruments of gaming winnings owed by the former casino.” It further states:

“At this time, any such chips are most likely to have been obtained by gift, inheritance or sale from the secondary market. The fund held by (the state) Treasury was meant for the benefit of the original patrons who have winnings to claim. It was never intended to be an open-ended invitation for subsequent acquirers of such chips to cash them in.”

Brief, yet storied, history of Atlantic City’s Playboy casino

Playboy sold its interest in the Atlantic City casino to Elsinore after the company’s infamous CEO, Hugh Hefner, was denied an NJ casino gaming license in 1982. Elsinore changed the property name to the Atlantis Hotel and Casino two years later.

The Atlantis was forced to close in 1989 after the NJ Casino Control Commission denied Elsinore’s casino license renewal. The treasury fund was also used to redeem expired Atlantis casino chips.

In June 1989, former US President Donald J. Trump paid $63 million for the property and renamed it Trump Regency. The Regency name stayed until 1996 when it became Trump World’s Fair at Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino.

Photo by PlayNJ
David Danzis Avatar
Written by
David Danzis

David Danzis is the lead writer for PlayNJ. He is a New Jersey native and honors graduate of Rutgers University. As a newspaper reporter for the New Jersey Herald and Press of Atlantic City, David earned statewide awards for his coverage of politics, government, education, sports, and business. Today, he is PlayNJ’s Atlantic City “insider” and gaming industry expert on casinos, sports betting, and online gambling. David lives in Atlantic County, NJ with his wife and two children.

View all posts by David Danzis
Privacy Policy