Atlantic City Casinos Closings: History and Today
Atlantic City has always been an aspiring ‘Las Vegas of the East’. Back in the 1980s, many thought this dream would become reality, only for it to come crashing down.
However, Atlantic City is, once again, on the up. With the legalization of online gambling and sports betting in New Jersey, as well as a renewed push by major land-based casino brands, Atlantic City continues to welcome thousands of visitors every year.
Casinos Closed Due to Covid-19 Virus
As of March 16, all casinos in Atlantic City have been closed. Gov. Philip Murphy expressed a hope to begin reopening some businesses within weeks, according to the New York Times. But this date depends upon several conditions indicating a decline in the spread virus. It is also not clear whether Atlantic City casinos will be among the first wave of businesses to be reopened.
As of now, all Atlantic City physical casinos are closed:
- Hard Rock Atlantic City
- Golden Nugget
- Ocean Resort Casino
There is no definite answer when these physical casinos will reopen.
Are Live Dealer Casino Online Games Closed?
No, you can still play live dealer table games online. The studios are open, so you can play during regular hours.
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Timeline of Openings and Closings of Atlantic City Casinos
There are a variety of AC casinos open today. However, many of them have long histories under different owners. There’s also the wasteland of dead casinos that have either been amalgamated into larger operations or simply demolished.
To the credit of the authorities in Atlantic City, there are only two uninhabited casino buildings
How Many Casinos in Atlantic City Closed?
There are currently nine major casinos that have closed during the modern history of Atlantic City.
What’s surprising is all but two of these casinos opened in the period from 1980 to 1990. The 1980s was a decade of promise for Atlantic City, but it quickly came crumbling down as not enough patrons came to visit these new casinos, which were leveraged to the hilt from the day they opened.
What Casinos are Closed in Atlantic City?
First of all, let’s take a look at the casinos that opened in the 1980s and their eventual fates. Many of the original casinos are still in existence today, even though most were taken over by new owners later.
Atlantis Casino: 1981-1996
Opened in April 1981 and lasting until October 1996. Its license was revoked during this year and the resulting casino would become Trump World’s Fair. The successor to the Atlantis would close its doors three years later in 1999.
Atlantic Club: 1980-2014
The Atlantic Club is one of the bigger success stories of the 1980s. It opened its doors in 1980 and would last all the way until 2014, riding out much of the turmoil in Atlantic City. Its assets would be split between Caesars and Tropicana.
Caesars would go on to sell the old Atlantic Club property in 2014. TJM Properties bought the casino and intended on turning it into a non-gaming real estate property. However, it pulled out of the development and plans were initially made in 2017 to turn it into a waterpark. The financing this project would ultimately fall through.
Today, the old Atlantic Club’s future continues to be up in the air. A company called Colosseo Atlantic City Inc. plan on turning it into a hotel, as of 2019. However, there has been no additional information on the Atlantic Club’s fate.
Claridge Casino and Hotel: 1981-2001
Like the Atlantic Club, the Claridge Casino and Hotel would open in the early 1980s (July 1981) and survive all the way until 2014.
The Claridge Casino and Hotel utilized a London theme and saw lots of early success. As we as a multi-level casino, it had a showroom with 600 seats. Major names regularly played at the showroom, including Aretha Franklin and Joan Rivers.
The Claridge Casino and Hotel, however, struggled to compete against the larger casinos during the boom period. In 2001, it saw an ignominious fall as it was merged with Bally’s and essentially became another hotel tower for Bally’s. Its restaurants were also closed during this period.
The Sands opened in August 1980 and did business until November 2006. It was owned by the Pratt Hotel Corporation for most of the boom period. The Sands flourished under their ownership, with some of the biggest entertainers in the country appearing here.
The Sands saw appearances from Bob Dylan, Frank Sinatra, and Whitney Houston, to name just a few. But the newer casinos in Atlantic City soon eclipsed the Sands and it became the smallest casino in town.
However, as the years went on the Sands made numerous efforts to expand. These were curtailed by its position on the Boardwalk and other casinos. Poor cashflow and a lack of visitors to the smallest casino in town.
Once it closed its doors for the final time, the Sands was demolished and turned into what’s now Atlantic’s Wonder Park.
Showboat: 1987 - 2016
Showboat is one of the happier casino stories in New Jersey. Following its opening in April 1987, it lasted until August 2014 when a buyer couldn’t be found for the casino.
It was thought that Showboat would become an empty shell, but a buyer was found for the property. The Richard Stockton College bought it and then sold it to Bart Blatstein, a developer from Philadelphia.
The old Showboat property was reopened as a non-casino resort hotel in 2016.
Trump Plaza 1984 - 1992
Donald Trump’s mark on Atlantic City has been something of a skid mark in New Jersey. Trump Plaza opened in 1984 and would go through a chaotic and public bankruptcy process in 1992.
The Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts company would take over the casino. Further construction to create a new hotel tower occurred in 1996.
Trump Plaza would become Trump Entertainment Resorts and in 2011 a request was made for a sale or financing of Trump Plaza. No investors came forward and Trump Plaza closed after thirty years of operation in 2014.
Trump Taj Mahal: 1990 - 2016
This casino was Trump’s later foray into the gambling market in New Jersey. Opening in April 1990, it lasted just two years longer than Trump Plaza and closed in October 2016, during the middle of a labor dispute. Currently, it’s operating as the Hard Rock Casino.
At one time, the Trump Taj Mahal was the largest casino in the world. Michael Jackson even appeared at the grand opening. In its first day of operation, the Trump Taj Mahal generated $2 million.
The reopened Hard Rock Casino is one of the most profitable casinos in Atlantic City, as of 2019.
Revel: 2012 - 2014
Perhaps one of the biggest failures in Atlantic City. It opened in 2012 and was then closed and sold off in 2014. It’s now the Ocean Resort Casino.
After filing for bankruptcy in little over a year after opening, Glenn Straub, a Florida property developer, bought it for $82 million in 2015. However, Straub couldn’t obtain the right permits to reopen it again.
It would then be sold to AC Ocean Walk and reopen as the Ocean Resorts Casino in 2018.
Empty Casinos in Atlantic City
The majority of Atlantic City’s closed casinos were quickly swept away to avoid the glitz and glamor turning into a ghost town.
Most of the casinos in question were either sold off as other casinos or demolished and rebuilt as something else.
The Atlantic Club and Trump Plaza are the only two major closed casinos that were left uninhabited after they shut down.
The Trump Plaza has been earmarked for demolition many times, but someone has always stepped in at the last minute. The latest news on Trump Plaza is that Carl Icahn bought the deed to Trump Plaza’s land, which dealt with the complex lease that had stopped potential buyers coming in in the past.
The Atlantic Club has seen a similar story, with many buyers seeking to buy the land and the building since its closure. However, various parties have prevented the demolition of the Atlantic Club, and even sales of the land itself.
The latest attempt occurred in early 2019. Since then, the Atlantic Club has seen no interest and the casino remains shuttered.