Atlantic City Bankruptcy History

This year is looking like it may be the worst ever for Atlantic City.

It lost Atlantic Club in January, Showboat is scheduled to close in August, and Revel may not even make it through the summer without a buyer.

This is not the first time Atlantic City casinos have fallen on hard times. Even during good economies, some resorts struggled to post a profit.

Atlantic City Past Closures

Atlantic Club was the most recent Atlantic City casino to close. It ceased operations on January 13, 2014.

It opened as the Golden Nugget in December 1980. It later became Bally’s Grand before rebranding to simply The Grand. It proceeded to be the Atlantic City Hilton but lost its affiliation in 2011 and was forced to rebrand as ACH.

In February 2012, it became Atlantic Club. This was its last name before it declared bankruptcy and closed.

The Claridge opened through financing provided by Del Webb, a Las Vegas casino owner.

It was originally built as a hotel in 1930. It was converted into a casino in July 1981. It was merged into the neighboring Bally’s property in December 2002. It was sold to TJM Properties in February 2014.

It now operates as a nongaming hotel.

Playboy Casino / Atlantis Casino / Trump

Playboy Hotel and Casino opened on April 14, 1981. The Playboy Company received a provisional gaming license but ultimately refused to permanently license Playboy. Its partner, Elsinore, was able to secure a license and moved on with the project. The name was changed to Atlantis Casino in 1984. The casino filed for bankruptcy in 1985 and lost its gaming license in 1989.

It was purchased by Donald Trump and renamed the Trump Regency. The casino was removed.

Gaming returned on May 15, 1996 and it was renamed Trump World’s Fair. The property was plagued with problems and closed on October 3, 1999. The building was razed in 2000.

Sands Atlantic City opened on August 31, 1980. It filed for bankruptcy in 1998. It was acquired by Carl Icahn and sold to Pinnacle in 2006. Pinnacle planned on building a new casino on the property. It quickly gave notice to employees and closed the property about two months after the sale was completed.

Sands was imploded on October 18, 2007. It was the first casino implosion ever in Atlantic City or anywhere else in the region.

Pinnacle Atlantic City never got off the ground. The company officially declared the project dead in 2009. The former Sands Atlantic City location is an empty lot today.

Atlantic City Casinos Set for Closure

Showboat opened on April 2, 1987. It was acquired by Caesars Entertainment, known at the time as Harrah’s, in 1998.

It was expanded in 2003 and remodeled in 2007. That was the peak era of Atlantic City. Since then, gaming revenue is down nearly 50 %. Caesars Entertainment announced that Showboat will close Aug 30, 2014.

The casino was profitable, but it appears Caesars feels they can recapture most of the lost players at its other Atlantic City casinos; Caesars, Bally’s and Harrah’s.

Revel is one of the biggest mistakes in gaming history.

It cost $2.4 billion to construct. It needed multiple bailouts and was forced to file for bankruptcy in its first year. It is now under a second bankruptcy filing. Employees have been given notice that the casino will close if it does not find a buyer, one that may pay less than 20 cents on the dollar.

Revel opened with the mentality of being an upscale resort that happened to have a casino. It did not offer a competitive players’ club and was known to refuse comps to high volume players.

The casino was also the first in Atlantic City to not allow smoking in its casino. These issues made it tough to draw players away from casinos that they had been loyal too for years.

Revel realized its mistakes and attempted to win players back with an improved players’ club, a smoking area, as well as a massive loss rebate program. This could not help get the casino in the black.

Bankruptcies Not Forcing Closure

Tropicana opened on November 23, 1981. On December 12, 2007, the casino lost its New Jersey gaming license due to noncompliance of gaming regulations. This forced the company into a trust that filed for bankruptcy. It was acquired by a group led by Carl Icahn. Its gaming license was reinstated in 2010.

Casinos affiliated with Donald Trump have filed for bankruptcy three times since 1991. The first came following the $1 billion construction of Trump Taj Mahal. In 2004, the company was unable to come to terms with creditors and filed bankruptcy again. Under a new name, the group once again filed for bankruptcy protection.

A 2009 bankruptcy saw Trump’s ownership in the company drop to 10 %. Half of this equity was given through a licensing agreement to use Trump’s name on the casinos. This only applies to the live casinos and not to online ones that are now available in New Jersey.

Resorts was the first casino in Atlantic City. Resorts International, its original parent company, was forced to file for bankruptcy in 1989 and again in 1994.

In December 2009, Resorts later announced that it had not paid the mortgage on the property for over a year. The casino was set to close in December 2010 when a group headed by the late Dennis Gomes saved it.

About the Author

John Mehaffey

A veteran writer covering the US online poker, online gambling, and land-based casino industries, John Mehaffey lives in Las Vegas, where he is a valued source on things happening around town. He is also the author of the popular Online Poker Payment Processing Report.