The Gambling History of Atlantic City

Atlantic City is located in New Jersey and is well known for their beach, boardwalk, and casinos. They have the nickname of The World's Famous Playground. It has also been the home of the Miss America pageant since 1921 and inspired the American board game Monopoly, especially the street names.

Modern day Atlantic City is where the Annual East Coast Gaming Congress and NexGen Gaming Forum is held. They're currently in their 21st year.

Early Atlantic City

Atlantic City was viewed as prime real estate due to its position along the The Atlantic Ocean. Belloe House was the first commercial hotel built there is 1853. Atlantic City was incorporated in 1854. Camden and Atlantic Railroad train service also began in 1854.

Around 500,000 passengers a year were using the railroad to come to Atlantic City in 1874.

The popular Atlantic City boardwalk was built in 1870 along the beach where hotels were located to help hotel owners keep sand out of their lobbies. The boardwalk would be removed at the end of each year's peak season.

In 1878 a second railroad named the Philadelphia and Atlantic City Railway was built to keep up with the tourists.

Prohibition era

1919 - 1933 was considered Atlantic City's golden age. Liquor was easily found in Atlantic City which brought in many drinkers and gamblers from across the United States. Illegal gambling was also easy to find in many back rooms of nightclubs or restaurants.

Decline of Atlantic City

After drinking became legalized in 1933 the tourist population drastically dropped and the city was mostly corruption, poverty, and crime. With many families moving into their own homes and purchasing automobiles, hotels were not in demand. Many of the once bustling hotels and resorts were torn down or converted into cheap apartments.

Legalized Gambling

In 1976 gambling was legalized in Atlantic City. Current hotels started to convert into casinos and new casino and hotels went up along the boardwalk.

The original thought was that this would revitalize the city and bring tourist and their money back into the city. This was a controversial subject and many people thought that the legalizing of gambling only further inhibited the current poverty of their city.

The city also struggled to bring in tourist because Las Vegas was more popular. To combat this, Donald Trump brought in boxing bouts with big names to attract tourism into the city. Mike Tyson had the majority of his fights in the 1980s in Atlantic City. This helped Atlantic City be put on the map for a gambling resort destination.

By the end of the 1980s Atlantic City was one of the most popular United States destinations. High-rise condominiums were built and permanent residence or people with second homes moved into the city.


Enoch Lew Nucky Johnson was born in 1883 in Galloway Township, New Jersey. He was an Atlantic County Treasurer from 1911 - 1939 and an Atlantic County Sheriff from 1908-1911. He was known for being involved in bootlegging, gambling and prostitution, especially in the roaring twenties.

Being in a position of power in politics, Nucky saw the potential for money and popularity of the city. Atlantic City became known as The World's Playground and Nucky made the majority of his money from a percentage he took from liquor, gambling and prostitution operations in the city.

Although Nucky was known for his association with criminal activities, he was well liked because of the lavish parties he threw and because he freely gave to those who needed money or help.

1933 marked the end of Prohibition and the decline of Atlantic City's population and Nucky's income. In 1941 Nucky was convicted of tax evasion and was sentenced to a fine of $20,000 and 10 years in prison.

Current Atlantic City Casinos

Resorts Casino Hotel

Resorts Casino Hotel is a hotel and casino with a roaring twenties theme. They have 942 rooms and 100,000 sq ft of gaming space. Their signature attraction is Platinum Place Slots.

Resorts was the first legal casino in the United States that wasn't in the state of Nevada. They opened 38 years ago in 1978.

Resorts markets itself as a pro LGBT company and opened the city's first gay nightclub named Prohibition.

Notable restaurants include Jimmy Buffett's Margaretville and Gallagher's Capriccio.


Caesars in Atlantic City is similar to the one in Las Vegas, it's a luxury spa, casino, and hotel with a Roman Empire theme. Caesars was Atlantic City's second casino and opened in 1979. They have 1,158 rooms and 145,000 sq ft of gaming space.

Caesars casino is set up into four different sections:

  • Table Games, over 120 table games
  • Poker Room, 20 poker tables
  • Slots, this is the second floor casino
  • And Palace East, the Asian gaming area

Notable restaurants include:

  • Palace Court Buffet
  • Caesars Sunday Brunch at Nero's
  • Café Roma
  • Nero's Italian Steakhouse
  • KWI Restaurant and Noodle Bar
  • Café Tazza
  • Gordon Ramsay Pub & Grill
  • And Morton's The Steakhouse

Caesars also has several amenities:

  • Spa
  • Salon
  • Outdoor pool
  • Indoor pool
  • Beach
  • Pier shops
  • Dusk nightclub
  • 21 Sports Bar at Dusk
  • Boardwalk Beer Garden
  • And Toga Bar


Bally's opened in 1979 and was built over the Marlborough-Blenheim Hotel. Bally's address can be found in the popular game Monopoly, their address is Park Place and the Boardwalk. It has 1,753 rooms and over 225,000 sq ft of gaming space. Their signatures acts are Palace Theater and Sammy Hagar's Beach Bar.

In 1997 Bally's expanded and opened the Wild Wild West Casino which is an American Old West themed casino designed with faux gold mines, running streams, and waterfalls.

Bally's has several restaurants, nightclubs, bars, and lounges including:

  • Buca di Beppo
  • Dunkin' Donuts
  • Guy Fieri's Chophouse
  • Johnny Rockets
  • Harry's Oyster Bar and Grill
  • Noodle Village
  • Guy's Bar-B-Que Joint
  • AC Snack Shack
  • The Diamond Club
  • L-Bar
  • Bally's Beach Bar
  • Boardwalk Saloon
  • And Mountain Bar

They also have several amenities and stores to shop in including:

  • Park Place Jewelers
  • The Spa Pro Shop
  • The Gift Shop
  • Studio
  • Indoor heated swimming pool
  • Two saunas
  • Six hot tubs
  • A gym
  • Basketball
  • Racquetball
  • A salon
  • And large 8th floor outdoor deck with ocean views


Harrah's Resort Atlantic City opened in 1980 and is a Marina Waterfront themed hotel and casino. They have 2,588 rooms and 160,000 sq ft of gaming space. They have a permanent show called DJ Smooth Saturdays after Dark.

Notable restaurants include:

  • Dos Caminos
  • Martorano's
  • McCormick & Schmick's Seafood Restaurant
  • The Steakhouse
  • AC Burger CO
  • Café Tazza
  • Waterfront Buffet
  • Deli No. 4
  • Pizza Joint
  • Oshio Modern Asian Kitchen
  • And Coastal Craft Kitchen+Bar

Harrah's also has several places to shop, an 800-seat Broadway by the Bay Theater, and Elizabeth Arden Red Door Spa.

Tropicana Casino & Resort

Tropicana Casino & Resort is a Old Havana themed luxury casino, spa, and hotel. They have 2,129 rooms and 123,980 sq ft of gaming space.

Notable restaurants include:

  • A Dam Good Deli
  • A Dam Good Sports Bar
  • Broadway Burger Bar
  • Boardwalk Favorites Ice Cream
  • Carmine's
  • Casa Taco & Tequila Bar
  • Chickie's & Pete's Crabhouse and Sportsbar
  • Fiesta Buffet
  • Cuba Libre
  • GOYOGO Frozen Yogurt
  • II Verdi
  • The Palm
  • And Golden Dynasty

Tropicana has an IMAX Theatre, Light and Sound Show on the boardwalk, a 2,000-seat showroom, 16 different bars and nightclubs, and a large shopping and dining complex called The Quarter.

Golden Nugget

Golden Nugget Atlantic City is a Gold Rush themed casino and hotel. It has 728 rooms and over 74,000 sq ft of gaming space. Past names include Trump Marina and Trump's Castle. It was opened in 1985.

Notable restaurants include:

  • The Buffet
  • The Deck Bayfront Bar & Restaurant
  • The Poolside Café
  • Vic & Anthony's
  • Grotto Italian Ristorante
  • Chart House
  • Lillie's Asian Cuisine
  • Michael Patrick's Brasserie

Golden Nugget also has:

  • Nightclub
  • 462-seat theater
  • Health spa
  • Outdoor heated pool
  • Hot tubs
  • Cabana
  • Basketball court
  • Jogging track
  • Marina
  • And tennis


Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa is a Tuscany Modernism casino, spa, and hotel. It's the largest hotel in New Jersey with 2,002 rooms and 161,000 sq ft of gaming space.

Notable restaurants include:

  • Old Homestead
  • Bobby Flay Steak
  • Fornelletto
  • Wolfgang Puck American Grille
  • Izakaya
  • The Metropolitan
  • Borgata Buffet
  • Bread+Butter
  • N.O.W or Noodles of the World
  • Roma
  • Gypsy Bar
  • And Sunroom

Borgata also has 4 different nightclubs, a spa, and a Water Club.


Atlantic City is a beautiful resort destination with a boardwalk, beach, and all the gambling and dining you could want. The city has two distinct areas, the marina and the boardwalk. Make sure to visit both areas on your next trip.