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Outside of Las Vegas, Atlantic City is hands-down the most iconic gambling city on the East Coast if not the whole United States. In this comprehensive guide, we go into detail on each and every casino in Atlantic City, past and present.
Pro-gambling legislation was passed in Atlantic City in 1976 following a public referendum. The city quickly became the de facto home of casino gambling on the east coast. Today, there are nine different casinos in operation in Atlantic City. They generate over $3 billion in revenue every year.
By far the most significant development in recent years was the arrival of legal sports betting in 2018. Now gamblers in Atlantic City can enjoy casino gambling well as fully legal land-based sportsbooks, all in the same place.
More and more people are visiting Atlantic City and greater NJ area these days especially bettors from New York. If you are coming from New York and want to place 100% safe and legal bets in New Jersey then check out our how to gamble in New Jersey if you’re from New York Guide.
In this guide to Atlantic City casinos, we’ll cover:
If you’re a fan of casino gambling or sports betting on the east coast, you’d be crazy not to visit Atlantic City. Read on for everything you need to know before hitting the bright lights of the AC boardwalk.
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Keep reading for detailed information, history and features of every casino in Atlantic City.
Bally’s is one of the oldest casinos in Atlantic City. Situated just off the boardwalk, with its 31 stories looking out over the Atlantic ocean, Bally’s offers a complete gambling experience. You can find two casinos on the premises – Bally’s and the Wild Wild West – which feature more than 120 table games and 3,000 slot machines.
There are four hotel towers to choose from at Bally’s, including more modestly priced options. The cheaper rooms, combined with the availability of low stakes games in the Wild Wild West casino, make Bally’s a perfect option for travelers looking for the full luxury gambling experience on a tighter budget.
As well as the casinos you can find a full list of restaurants, bars, and cafes on the premises, including the famous Guy Fieri’s Chophouse. The Spa at Bally’s is available to all guests to relax and keep fit while staying on the property.
Having two casinos in the same complex is nice – you get to try both. Wild Wild West is a themed casino, with its Coyote Kate Slot Parlour and Saloon style decorations, and it aims to combine gambling with partying and live entertainment. If you’re not so interested in the party scene, you can stick to the other casino.
The Book is Bally’s signature sportsbook. With an impressive 15,000 square foot gaming area, the sportsbook offers a well-rounded experience. Complete with self-service kiosks, bar and 100 ft television wall, The Book is a great place to both bet on and watch sports. You can even book private “Fan Caves” to host your own parties and events.
When the street is named after the casino, you know it’s an impressive set up. With over 2,000 rooms available at the luxury hotel and casino, the Borgata has a well-deserved reputation as one of the best casinos in Atlantic City.
The Borgata is situated in the marina district, with the floor-to-ceiling windows in every room looking out over the marina.
The huge casino features over 180 table games, 4,000 slots and Borgata’s Poker Room – the largest poker room in Atlantic City. The poker room is a regular stop on the World Poker Tour calendar, hosting some of the highest stakes tournaments in the US every year.
Sports betting at the Borgata is next-level too, with the casino also hosting its own sports betting app BetMGM. The app means you can bet online anywhere, as long as you are physically located in New Jersey. The physical sportsbook is impressive too, featuring 100 seats with individual monitors to personalize the watching experience. There are also kiosks for horse race betting and a fully stocked bar,
We chose the poker room as our best feature, but it only narrowly beat the entertainment at the Borgata. There are three dedicated live entertainment spaces, generally for music and comedy, including the Borgata Festival Park which is outdoors. Many of the biggest names in music have played the Borgata over the years, from David Bowie to Rihanna and Jay-Z.
The Borgata also has a retail area with 11 high-end boutiques, as well as lots of dining options for guests.
Caesars is another of the oldest casinos in Atlantic City. It opened in 1979 with the signature Caesars ancient Roman theme, which has expanded over the years to include a temple style exterior.
The casino is divided into four main areas. The Palace East focuses on Asian gaming, and it’s probably the best place to go in Atlantic City for this kind of gambling. The second floor is dedicated to slots and houses over 3,000 machines. Another area houses the table games, with more than 120 on offer. Finally, Caesars Poker Arena offers luxury surroundings for poker players.
Caesars Entertainment Corporation actually owns three casinos in New Jersey, the others being Bally’s and Harrah’s. While the other properties have fully operational sportsbooks, Caesars is, unfortunately, the only casino on the boardwalk not to have a physical sportsbook. However, Caesars is located right next door to Bally’s, so the sportsbook there is easily accessible.
You can also bet using the Caesars sports betting app which can be accessed from anywhere in New Jersey.
What makes Caesars really stand out from the competition is that it is connected to Playground Pier, a luxury four-story shopping mall. With over 59 luxury stores and over 100 years of experience in the game, Playground Pier offers an alternative to the casino. Spending a day at Caesars by splitting your time between the tables and the shops is a great way to experience Atlantic City.
The casino landscape in Atlantic City has changed a lot over the years, and the Golden Nugget in the marina district has had a variety of names since it was founded in 1985. Originally owned by a certain US president under the name Trump’s Castle, the casino struggled with financial issues before declaring bankruptcy in 1985.
After an attempted rebrand as Trump’s Marina, it was eventually sold to Landry’s in 2011 and underwent extensive redevelopment to become the Golden Nugget we know today.
Golden Nugget’s casino is slightly on the smaller side compared to the bigger properties in Atlantic City, with 1,300 slot machines and 80 table games available. However, the location overlooking the water is one of the best in town. The casino has plenty of outdoor areas too, to take advantage of its location.
The Golden Nugget was one of the earliest champions of online gambling in New Jersey. Recognizing that the future of the industry was online, the Golden Nugget online casino was launched in 2013. After continuous investment, by 2017 it was by far the most sophisticated and successful site in New Jersey. In March, it became the first US gambling site to offer 500 unique casino games online.
You can also bet on sports online with Golden Nugget, via desktop and app. The Sportsbook at Golden Nugget is the physical sportsbook located in the casino, featuring 50 TVs and self-service betting kiosks.
Hard Rock Atlantic City is the newest casino on the scene in Atlantic City and is also one of the most modern.
Originally, the casino was completed in 1990 as Trump’s Taj Mahal, another casino owned by the Trump company. On its launch, the Taj Mahal claimed to be the largest casino in the world and throughout the 90s it gained a reputation for being extremely opulent and extravagant. Until 2003, it was the highest-grossing casino in the city.
However, by the 2010s the Taj Mahal had run into considerable financial issues as well as accusations of money laundering. Trump Entertainment Resorts filed for bankruptcy in 2014, and the Taj Mahal eventually closed in 2016.
Hard Rock International purchased the property the following year and spent a further year developing the casino before launching in 2018.
You can find 120 table games at the Hard Rock Casino, but the real highlight is the complete vacation experience offered at Hard Rock. The hotel rooms are brand new and state of the art. There are also loads of restaurants and even a music-themed spa. The central boardwalk location makes it a great place for a family-friendly Atlantic City vacation.
Hard Rock has a sportsbook on site, with 50 TVs and seats for around 50 people too. There is a bar in operation right in the sportsbook itself. Hard Rock also has its own betting app, which allows you to bet on sports on your mobile device from anywhere in New Jersey.
Harrah’s was the first casino in Atlantic City not to be located on the boardwalk, pioneering a new luxury gambling area in the city at the picturesque marina. After several years it was joined by the Borgata and the Golden Nugget.
The competition between the three casinos in the marina area has led to many renovations and improvements over the years, and Harrah’s has grown a lot since it was founded in 1980.
The casino features over 5,500 slots, with hundreds of creative themes and limits all the way up to $500. There are 40 poker tables as well as video poker, and every year the poker room hosts a WSOP event. Harrah’s does a good job of keeping things interesting with promotions, like the running bad beat jackpot.
Away from the casino Harrah’s has some of the best entertainment options in the city. The 1,200 seat concert venue hosts everything from music and theatre to pro boxing matches. The Pool at Harrah’s sits under a glass dome and is one of the most popular party destinations in the city, transforming at night into The Pool After Dark and featuring live DJs and performances. There is also an alternative, more family-friendly pool in the complex.
Harrah’s has a sportsbook too. The Book at Harrah’s is similar to its sister sportsbook at Bally’s, but more economic in size. The sportsbook is 3,800 square feet and has two TV walls, as well as a couple of private “Caves” which can be rented out. As Harrah’s is a Caesars property, users can also download the Caesars sports betting app to bet using their mobile device.
Take a glance at the Atlantic City skyline and the first building you’ll see will probably be the Ocean Resort Casino. Standing near the northern tip of the boardwalk, it is the tallest building in Atlantic City.
The casino was constructed in 2012 at a total cost of $2.4 billion and opened as the Revel Casino. Complete with a 57th-story rooftop garden and three-story nightclub. It was one of the most extravagant casino hotels in the US. Perhaps unsurprisingly given the cost, the project was dogged by financial struggles. In the end, the Revel announced bankruptcy after only two years and the casino closed in 2014.
In 2015 the property was sold to Polo North Country Club, and the company looked to re-open the casino quickly. What followed, however, was three years of continuous issues between the Polo North and Atlantic City council bodies and workers unions. Finally, after years of aborted plans, the casino was sold to AC Ocean and re-opened in 2018.
Today, the casino features 2,000 slot machines and 125 table games and an extensive live poker area.
The true star of the casino, however, is the sportsbook. Caesars Sportsbook is located in the middle of the casino, on the sixth floor of the building. The 45-foot LED screens are the biggest in Atlantic City, making the sportsbook just about the best place in town to watch sports. There are betting kiosks as well as in-person betting windows.
The bar in the sportsbook is open 24 hours. With space for around 350 people, and different kinds of seating to suit everyone – from luxury leather recliners facing the screens, to bar seating with USB and plug sockets, to family-friendly tables.
Resorts is a little piece of history. It was the first-ever casino in Atlantic City when it opened its doors in 1978. The site’s history in the service industry goes back way further than that – all the way to the 1800s when one of Atlantic City’s first hotels could be found where Resorts now stands. In 1904 the city’s first skyscraper, the eight-story Chalfonte Hotel, was built.
The property continued to play a prominent role in the city throughout the 1900s. Meanwhile, Resorts International was one of the organizations campaigning for changes to the gambling restrictions in Atlantic City, and were on the lookout for a potential casino of their own. Once the 1976 referendum to bring legal gambling to the city passed, Resorts acquired the property.
By renovating an existing property, Resorts saved time compared to their rivals who were building their own, and the Resorts International casino opened for business in May 1978.
Over the years Resorts struggled with the increased competition from new casinos on Atlantic City’s boardwalk. After a number of ownership changes in the 80s and 90s, as well as financial problems, the casino was acquired by DGMB Casinos in 2010 mere days before it was due to shut down.
The casino was rebranded with a “Roaring 20’s” theme which brought renewed success and exists to this day.
The casino has 1,500 slots and 70 table games, open 24 hours a day. Resorts has loads of options for both fine and casual dining, but the Landshark Beach Bar is a must-visit in Atlantic City. Spilling out over the boardwalk and onto the sand, the Landshark has a fire pit fired up every night for one of the most atmospheric experiences in the city.
Resorts’ DraftKings Sportsbook is one of the most modern and slick sportsbooks in the city. Customers can find lounge seating in front of the video wall, private booths available to hire and food served in the sportsbook. The DraftKings mobile app is also available to bet on the go while in New Jersey.
The Tropicana is built on the site of the Ambassador Hotel, one of the most famous in the history of Atlantic City. The Hotel closed in the 1970’s, but was purchased by Ramada in 1979 as the site of their east coast operations. Ramada already owned the Tropicana Resort and Casino on the Las Vegas strip, and bought the Atlantic City property with the aim of turning it into a Vegas-style mega resort.
In the casino you can find 2,400 and 132 table games. Caesars sportsbook features one of the biggest video walls in town, which wraps around three walls and has the ability to play up to 16 different events at once.
The Tropicana experience however is not just about gambling. The complex has loads to do when you want to take a break from the tables. It probably has the greatest number of other amenities in the city. There are 25 different restaurants, 20 bars and nightclubs and 30 retail shops, as well as the only IMAX movie theatre in Atlantic City. On the boardwalk outside the casino there is a free multimedia light show every day.
All of this makes Tropicana much more than a casino. If you’re looking for a holiday in Atlantic City that is only partly casino based, the Tropicana is perfect.
Competition between the rival casinos in Atlantic City has had a major impact on gambling in the city ever since it was first legalized, with the major brands acquiring each other’s properties regularly. Nowhere can this be seen more clearly than in the history of the Atlantic Club.
When the Atlantic opened on the boardwalk in 1980 it was originally the Golden Nugget, long before the Golden Nugget of today arrived to the marina in 2011. By 1983 it was the top grossing casino in the city, despite its comparatively small size. The likes of Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra and Dolly Parton all performed there during the early part of the decade.
In 1987 the property was sold to Bally’s for $440 million, and rebranded as Bally’s Grand Hotel and Casino. Next, it became the Atlantic City Hilton in 1996, before being sold to Resorts in 2005. Finally, in 2012 it was renamed as The Atlantic Club.
Situated a little further south on the boardwalk than most other casinos, the Atlantic Club set about rebranding itself as a “locals casino” – a casino chiefly marketed towards residents of the city rather than tourists. This rebranding had mixed success, and for a while it looked like PokerStars would buy the property before the deal collapsed.
In January 2014, the casino shut its doors for good.
Caesars currently owns the property, but has no plans to open another casino.
The story of the Atlantic Club shows how unpredictable the world of luxury casino management can be – and how much trading is done between the same handful of companies. Since the Atlantic Club was shut down, Atlantic City has not had a recognizable locals casino.
The Showboat Atlantic City is actually an operational hotel today, located at 801 Boardwalk. However, when it opened in 1987, it was as a luxury hotel and casino.
Like many casinos in Atlantic City, the Showboat went through a number of theme changes and other enhancements in a bid to capture the public interest during its existence. When it opened, the 60,000-foot casino wads paired with a huge 60 lane bowling complex. In 1993, it opened the first racebook in Atlantic City, which allowed simulcast betting.
In 1995, the hotel was rebranded with a Mardi Gras theme, and in the following years the property was acquired by Caesars.
In 2001, the bowling alley was removed and replaced with a buffet and cafe.
2014 was a damaging year for the casino industry in Atlantic City, with four major casinos closing. At the end of August, in an effort to help stabilize the issues being experienced by other Caesars properties in the city, Caesars made the decision to close the Showboat for good.
After lying vacant for two years, the property was acquired by the developer Bart Blatstein for $23 million in 2016 and re-opened as a hotel only.
Caesars inserted terms into the sale of the property that meant the new owners could not open a casino. Instead, Blatstein is planning to build a new casino building on the property to get around these restrictions.
For now, the Showboat hotel is open for business.
In our rundown of the history of each of the active casinos in Atlantic City, you might have noticed one brand name that kept cropping up but is no longer active in the city.
Throughout the ’80s and ’90s Donald Trump set about trying to build his own casino property empire in Atlantic City. Over the years, he has owned or partly owned the Golden Nugget, the Hard Rock Cafe, Resorts, and many smaller properties around town, generally under some variation of his own name.
However, what he originally saw as the crown jewel of his portfolio was the Trump Plaza.
When the casino opened in 1984 it was as the biggest casino in Atlantic City. Originally a joint venture between Trump and Harrah’s, Trump eventually bought his partners out.
Trump Plaza started slowly but grew steadily throughout the 1980’s. However, the opening of Trump’s latest project, the Trump Taj Mahal, in 1990 had an extremely negative impact on business at Trump Plaza. With customers abandoning the casino, Trump Plaza was the subject of bankruptcy in 1992, and was eventually acquired by the publicly-traded company Trump Hotels and Casino Resorts.
As business continued to decline, it was announced that if a buyer could not be found Trump Plaza would be closed down. After no deal was agreed upon, the casino closed its doors in September 2014.
Atlantic City has had a long history of gambling.
Betting on horse racing was the most popular form of gambling in the 1800s, until an 1897 referendum passed which constitutionally outlawed all forms gambling in New Jersey.
The ban remained into the early part of the century, although it was not heavily enforced when it came to social gambling like raffles and bookmaking. Over the years, slowly but surely, different forms of gambling were made legal again. Racetrack betting in 1939 was followed by bingos and raffles in 1953, and the New Jersey state lottery arrived in 1970.
However, it was 1976 that proved to be the most significant date the gambling history of the state. After considerable lobbying from various bodies in the entertainment industry, New Jersey was ready to consider fully legalized gambling.
A 1974 referendum that proposed state-wide legalization was rejected, but an amended version to enable legal gambling in Atlantic City only passed two years later.
The aim of New Jersey was to situate Atlantic City as the home of gambling on the east coast, and to create a city to rival Las Vegas. Nevada was the only other state with legal gambling at the time.
The first casino in Atlantic City, Resorts Atlantic City, opened for business in 1978. It was quickly followed by a host of competitors, all of which were initially located on the iconic boardwalk, overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. In later years a second gambling area was established at the city’s marina, where three casinos operate today.
Business boomed in the city during the 80’s and 90’s. The luxury casino resorts grew and new projects were attracted to the area, some successful, but many not. A culture, similar to that of Las Vegas, grew around Atlantic City. The glitz and glamour of the casinos helped the city grow as a popular holiday destination.
As the 2000’s wore on expansion slowed and many casinos ran into hard times. This culminated in 2014, when four of the biggest casinos all closed within the space of a year.
However, around the same time gambling was evolving. In 2011, a bill was passed that legalized online gambling at casinos in Atlantic City. Over the years, this was further relaxed to include all of New Jersey. Technology was improving, and online gambling became a new frontier for casinos.
The Golden Nugget was the first to take advantage, launching their online gambling site in 2013, and quickly becoming the market leader in the industry. As mobile devices became more sophisticated, online gambling grew and grew. This was to be crucial for the next gambling evolution in Atlantic City.
The rest of the US has New Jersey to thank for the sports betting boom happening right now across the country. In 2012, New Jersey began passing legislation to regulate sports betting in the state. The NCAA filed a lawsuit against the state, which was the catalyst for the eventual removal of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act by the Supreme Court in 2018.
PASPA acted as a federal ban on sports betting in the US. After the Act was removed, each state was free to determine their own sports betting laws. New Jersey wasted no time, officially legalizing sports betting later the same year.
Today, almost all of the casinos in Atlantic City have a sportsbook, as well as a dedicated mobile app that allows users to bet using their devices from anywhere in New Jersey.
Atlantic City has experienced a few ups and downs during its history with legal gambling. From the mega-casinos that sprung up in the ’80s and ’90s to the hard times that culminated in 2014, the landscape of the city has been forever changed by its casinos.
Even though Pennsylvania has recently overtaken New Jersey as the state with the second-highest gambling revenue in the US (after Nevada), there is no doubt what city is the face of luxury gambling on the east coast.
With the latest growth spurred on by legal sports betting, Atlantic City is looking as healthy as ever.
Now is the time to check it out.
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After graduating from the University of New Hampshire with a BA in Journalism, Richard Janvrin has been covering iGaming and sports betting since December 2018. Richard has covered betting at Bleacher Report, Gambling.com, The Game Day, Forbes, and more.More info on Richard Janvrin
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