There is so much happening and about to happen in Atlantic City in 2018. And one event this weekend, which almost certainly would have been headline news otherwise, has not received all the attention it deserves.
This article is intended to correct the oversight and make you all aware of the remarkable celebration about to take place. 2018 marks the 40th year of legalized casino gambling in Atlantic City. In addition, this Memorial Day Weekend, the oldest casino hotel, Resorts Atlantic City, celebrates its 40th anniversary!
2018 is a year to remember
2018 will go down in history as one of the biggest years ever for Atlantic City and NJ gambling.
Legalization of sports betting
First and foremost, on May 14, the US Supreme Court ruled that the 1992 federal ban on sports betting, aka PASPA, in all but four states was unconstitutional, thereby freeing each individual state to set its own policies.
New Jersey, which was instrumental in bringing about this exciting new development, has the necessary legislation already in place. So from this point onward, it’s only a matter of dotting the Is and crossing the Ts and giving the casinos the green light.
For example, Borgata Hotel, Casino & Spa has indicated that its race book, which will now be called a Race & Sports Book, will start taking sports bets on day one. The Borgata will also be drawing on the vast experience of its parent company MGM Resorts International to create a brand new state-of-the-art sportsbook.
Other Atlantic City casinos will also probably have temporary headquarters set up to start taking sports bets as soon as possible, until such time as they are able to offer a more elaborate Las Vegas-style sportsbook.
Two new casinos
Exciting new entertainment and restaurant options
As if all the above isn’t enough, there will be plenty of new options this summer for non-gamblers, too. The casinos are putting out all the stops to bring top entertainment to town, especially at Hard Rock, with 60 acts booked for the summer alone. There will be three concerts on the beach as well: Sam Hunt (July 1), Demi Lovato (July 26), and the Chainsmokers (July 29).
New restaurants will be opening, too, starting with the much anticipated soft opening this weekend of Gordon Ramsay Steak (replacing the former Steakhouse) at Harrah‘s Resort.
The Skybridge connecting the Chelsea Tower with the Tropicana Atlantic City will also open this weekend, as will Chelsea Five Gastropub, where you will be able to enjoy steak, seafood, and panoramic views.
Atlantic City visitors and residents alike will also want to check out the new eateries near the Boardwalk on Tennessee Avenue:
- Tennessee Beer Hall: Featuring pub and comfort foods and over 100 craft beers
- Hayday Coffee: Atlantic City’s only independently owned coffee shop
- MADE: Specializing in everything chocolate, including chocolate-based cocktails
Flashback to 40 years ago: The debut of casino gambling in Atlantic City
May 26, 1978, was day one of an equally memorable era in Atlantic City. That was when Atlantic City officially became the first region in the US outside of Nevada to offer legalized gambling. It was also when the property then called Resorts International first opened its doors on the Atlantic City Boardwalk.
What it was like at Atlantic City’s first casino back then
Opening Day at Resorts was sheer craziness. Hopefully, when Hard Rock and Ocean Resort Casino open on June 28, they will be much better prepared to handle the overflow crowds than Resorts was in 1978. But you have to hand it to Resorts not only for trying their best but for the property’s phenomenal growth over the past 40 years to get to where it is today.
At 10 a.m. on May 26, 1978, when the casino opened for the first time, the lines waiting to get in “the only game in town” extended for six blocks. Then, once inside, finding a vacant slot machine or seat at a table game proved to be an even bigger challenge. There were only 84 games in the whole casino — nowhere near enough to accommodate the enormous crowds.
Another problem was the accumulation of coins in the slot machines and a shortage of employees to keep emptying the hoppers fast enough for the next round of players.
Within minutes of the ceremonial ribbon cutting by then-New Jersey Gov. Brendan T. Byrne, entertainer Steve Lawrence rolled the dice and became the very first gambler to place a bet in the casino. (By the way, in case all of you trivia buffs want to know, he rolled a five and immediately sevened out.)
Top entertainment from the get-go
Back in the day, Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme were frequent performers in the Superstar Theater. They shared the spotlight with a long lineup of other top entertainers such as Don Rickles, Johnny Carson, Steve Martin, Natalie Cole and, of course, Frank Sinatra.
Resorts was a property that continued to evolve
Over the years, Resorts Atlantic City underwent multiple ownership changes. As other larger and flashier casino properties opened in Atlantic City, Resorts began showing its age.
It became increasingly apparent that in order to survive in the rapidly changing and highly competitive market, it would have to broaden its appeal to include a younger generation. And there was a time when it even looked like Resorts’ days were numbered. But fortunately, Resorts stepped up to the plate in a big way. Otherwise, it could have easily become one of the casualties of 2014.
In 2012, Resorts Atlantic City entered into a partnership with Mohegan Sun to manage the property. The same year, Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville also found a new home at Resorts. Guests could choose between Margaritaville, Landshark Bar & Grill, and 5 O’Clock Somewhere bar and almost feel they were at a Jimmy Buffett concert.
Another noteworthy innovation was the addition of the first casino iGaming lounge in 2015. The room is unique because it gives visitors to Atlantic City who are new to online gambling a chance to try it in a relaxed setting where they can enjoy social interaction with other gamblers. Then, if they like the experience, they can sign up for an online account at ResortsCasino.com and/or MoheganSunCasino.com, and many of them do.
On the other hand, not everything at Resorts is different from the good old days. A case in point is Capriccio, a gourmet Italian restaurant, which is still going just as strong today as when it opened in 1978.
Celebrate 40 years with Resorts Atlantic City
Whether you were around for the grand opening of what is now Resorts Casino Hotel in 1978 or not, you’re invited to be part of the big celebration this weekend. Every day of the big holiday weekend, Resorts is planning something special. So why not pick what appeals to you most from the following and come out and join the fun!
Friday, May 25
- 9 a.m. to 1 a.m.: Mini Beach Ball Giveaway in the Promotions Booth. First come, first serve, while supplies last. One lucky Beach Ball holds $500 in slot cash!
- 2 p.m.: On the Casino Floor. Re-enactment of the first roll of the dice that officially opened the casino.
- 5 p.m.: Annual Beach Ball Drop. Thousands of beach balls will be released onto the Boardwalk.
Special contests and games on the Boardwalk, Resorts showgirls, Philadelphia Mummers, and other strolling entertainers will add to the festivities. In addition, Bar 1 will serve up drink specials and disco music from the 1970s.
Saturday, May 26
- 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.: Free pull on Atlantic City’s first slot machine located in the Margaritaville lobby for a chance to win $2,500 in slot cash.
- Noon: 40th Anniversary cake cutting in the hotel lobby.
- 8 p.m. Concert by the Village People in the Superstar Theater.
Sunday, May 27
- 2 to 8 p.m.: 40th Anniversary T-shirt giveaway in the Horizon Room. This offer is open to all Star Card members who earn at least 5 tier points on that day.
- 9 p.m.: Fireworks on Resorts Beach!
Play at Resorts Online Casino
This holiday weekend is also as good a time as any to try your luck in the Daily Games on ResortsCasino.com. You can play the Slot Game, Wheel Game, or both.
In addition, every Wednesday, 1,000 players are randomly picked in a drawing to win a $10 bonus. Visit the Resorts website for the full details on both promotions.
Like the prize in the Wednesday drawing, most of the prizes up for grabs in the Daily Games are also small, but you never know. You could win up to $10,000 in the Slot Game or win up to $3,000,000 in the Wheel Game!
By the way, you do not necessarily have to live in New Jersey to participate in the Daily Games, but you do need to be a registered ResortsCasino.com player with access to the NJ gambling website. Residents of New York, Florida, Rhode Island, Louisiana, Hawaii, Guam, and Puerto Rico are not eligible.
Whether you plan to visit Atlantic City, play online, or both this weekend, as Resorts celebrates its 40th year here in Atlantic City, so should you.
After all, if it wasn’t for Resorts paving the way and being this region’s first casino back in 1978, Atlantic City would not be the great gaming capital of the East Coast that it is today. Congratulations to Resorts on 40 great years!