For much of Atlantic City’s history, the town served as one of America’s great summer vacation resorts. The city is situated on the South Jersey shore, and the boardwalk that overlooks the Atlantic Ocean is the world’s longest.
But by the 1960s, traffic to Atlantic City had greatly diminished. Many of the great hotels in the city closed, and it became clear that something new needed to be added to the mix if the city were to survive as a tourism destination.
In 1976, legalized gambling was approved for Atlantic City by the state of New Jersey. This allowed the city to become the first place on the east coast of the United States to offer legal gambling, and started a second boom for the struggling town. Today, there are eleven different casinos in Atlantic City, making it the second largest gambling market in the United States after Las Vegas.
In recent years, gambling revenues have begun to decline in Atlantic City, in part because of the fact that much of the city is still impoverished, and perhaps also due to the influx of new resort hotel casinos in Las Vegas over the past two decades. However, while Atlantic City may have its share of issues to deal with, it easily remains the second biggest gambling destination in North America, and the state of New Jersey has taken great lengths to help revitalize the gambling industry so that it will remain a popular resort town for decades to come.
Atlantic City Neighborhoods
The casinos of Atlantic City can be broadly separated into two different areas. The largest block of casinos is located on the Atlantic City Boardwalk, which overlooks the Atlantic Ocean. Other casinos can be found in the recently developed Marina district. The table of contents below will help you jump straight to the section you’re looking for.
- AC Boardwalk Casinos
The boardwalk is Atlantic City’s most defining landmark. First built in 1870, much of the original seven-mile boardwalk was destroyed during a 1944 hurricane. Before the legalization of gambling in the city, the boardwalk was dotted by large hotels that were packed with tourists during the summer. The fact that these hotels could no longer be filled anywhere near to capacity was one of the factors that led to the city turning to gambling as a new attraction.
Today, most of the old hotels are gone from the boardwalk, but several large casinos have taken their place. The boardwalk still stretches an incredible 5.75 miles through both Atlantic City and neighboring Ventnor, making it the world’s longest. Eight casinos can be found on the boardwalk in all.
Opening in 1980 by Steve Wynn, the Atlantic City Hilton was originally named the Golden Nugget Atlantic City. It was the first luxury hotel/casino built from scratch in the city. In the last thirty years, the property has changed hands several times, most recently belonging to Resorts International. The hotel here features 800 upscale rooms; despite the age of the building, the Hilton is still one of the nicest places to stay in Atlantic City.
The Hilton’s casino features over 2,000 slot machines, along with around 80 table games. If you’re looking for a Macau-style VIP setting, check out the Treasure Palace room on the second floor, which has 26 tables spreading games like pai gow and baccarat.
The second floor is also home to the Hilton’s poker room, which features 22 tables spreading mostly limit and no-limit hold’em games, though Stud and Omaha can also be found on occasion. They also hold tournaments on a fairly regular basis.
Sitting right on the AC boardwalk, the Hilton is one of the top hotel choices in the city
Resorts Atlantic City first opened in 1978, and like many of the properties in Atlantic City, has changed ownership on several occasions since then. The older Ocean Tower has been supplemented by the newer Rendezvous Tower, which is home to the largest standard guest rooms in the city. In total, there are 942 rooms between the two towers.
Resorts was the first casino that opened in Atlantic City, which also made it the first legal casino on the entire east coast. There’s over 100,000 square feet of gaming space, featuring around 2,500 slot machines and 60 or so tables.
There’s also a small poker room here, though it’s not one of the best in the city. There are only six tables, which spread low-stakes games of Texas Hold’em (both no-limit and limit).
The northernmost casino in the Boardwalk, the Showboat is a Mardi Gras themed hotel/ casino that first opened back in 1987. Despite the age of the casino, most of the hotel is rather new; the Orleans tower opened in 2003, and the Bourbon tower was renovated in 2007. In total, there are now 1,331 rooms, with the Orleans tower housing the nicest rooms and suites.
The casino houses around 3,500 slots machines spread out over 100,000 square feet of gaming space, along with more than 80 table games. The House of Blues poker room has 25 tables that host a mix of limit and no-limit Texas Hold’em games, primarily at rather low limits.
Not only is the Tropicana one of Atlantic City’s most popular casinos, it is also one of the largest hotels in all of New Jersey, featuring over 2,100 rooms. These rooms are spread over four different towards, the newest of which is the Havana Tower, which opened in 2004. It was most recently renovated in 2007, allowing the Topicana – which was originally opened in 1981 – to remain modern to this day.
The casino floor is very large, spreading out over three floors that, in total, cover nearly 150,000 square feet. There are over 3,000 slot machines, along with around 170 gaming tables. The Tropicana Casino also hosts a variety of specialty and high-limit areas, such as the Jade Palace (an Asian gaming room), The Crystal Room, which hosts high-limit slots, and two themed slots areas: Havana Rooftop Slots and Palm Cove Slots.
The Tropicana also is home to the third-largest poker room in Atlantic City. The room features 43 tables, most of which spread Texas Hold’em; however, Stud and Omaha games can also be found here. In addition, the room hosts daily poker tournaments, as well as sit-and-go single table tournaments.
The Taj Mahal is one of three casinos owned by Trump Entertainment Resorts in Atlantic City, and has been the largest casino on the Atlantic City Boardwalk since opening in 1990. It is also the Boardwalk hotel with the most rooms, coming just ahead of the Tropicana with 2,248 in total. The Taj Mahal theme and grand size of the resort have made the Taj Mahal Casino is a favorite for tourists, even though the Borgata Casino has overtaken it in total gambling revenues.
The casino spans an impressive 167,000 square feet of space, including over 4,000 slot machine and over 200 table games. There’s also a special baccarat pit that caters to high- limit players of the classic casino game.
The Taj is also the home to Atlantic City’s second-largest poker room. There are 75 tables for cash games, along with an additional 14 tournament tables. Like everywhere else, Texas Hold’em is the game of choice here, but the size of the room means that there’s plenty of variety; Stud and Omaha games are also regularly found here. There are daily poker tournaments too, along with the occasional major event, like the US Poker Championships.
The boardwalk’s largest hotel and casino, the Taj also plays host to the 2nd biggest card room in the city
Bally’s Casino is actually both on and off the boardwalk, with some of the property spanning a block away from the oceanfront. Originally opened at the end of 1979, Bally’s features 1,753 rooms and contains both the original Bally’s facility, along with the adjacent Claridge Hotel and Casino, which it merged with in 2003.
Bally’s actually contains several different casino floors, which in total have over 220,000 square feet of gaming space. Counting the main casino, the Wild Wild West Casino, and the absorbed Claridge Casino, there are a total of over 5,000 slot machines and 200 table games available for play. Asian gaming options are available in the Bacarrat Palace, and there’s also a racing simulcast area/racebook along with a keno lounge, both of which are on the sixth floor.
Bally’s is also home to a modest but serviceable poker room. It features 20 tables, and normally spreads Texas Hold’em and Seven Card Stud at low limits.
This is actually Atlantic City’s second oldest casino, having opened in 1979, and features the same Roman theme that is found in Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. While not quite as opulent as its Las Vegas cousin, Caesars Atlantic City is still a luxurious destination, featuring 1,158 rooms between its two towers: the original Temple Tower and the newer Centurion Tower, which was built in 1997.
Caesars is one of the largest casinos in Atlantic City, and offers guests a wide variety of gaming options. For starters, the 145,000 square foot gaming area features over 3,000 slot machines and 135 table games. There’s also Palace East, the Asian gaming area that features 28 additional tables, including Asian favorites like baccarat and Pai Gow. There’s also a racebook here, which is among the nicest in the city; while there are only 44 seats, each one comes with its own television for watching the races as they happen.
Caesars in Atlantic City also has its own poker room, though it may not be as large or offer as much variety as you’d expect. The 24 tables are more than adequate, but most of the time, you’ll only find $1/$2 no-limit Texas Hold’em games being played. There are also daily tournaments, along with occasional large poker events.
The Trump Plaza, located right next to Boardwalk Hall, is a mid-sized hotel and casino owned by Donald Trump. The Plaza opened in 1984, but recently underwent modernizing renovations in 2006. There are a total of 906 rooms here, including 142 suites.
The Trump Plaza casino features just over 91,000 square feet of gaming space, which is home to two separate casinos: a main floor and a smaller East Tower Casino. In total, there are 2,800 slot machines and about 80 table games between the two casinos. Unfortunately, the Trump Plaza does not contain a poker room.
The Marina was developed in an attempt to counter the decline in tourism Atlantic City saw in the 1990s. In 1999, Steve Wynn worked with the city to connect the Atlantic City Expressway to a barren strip of land that is now known as the Marina district. While Wynn never built his proposed casino, three others were, including the Borgata, which is now the casino with the highest revenue in all of Atlantic City.
The Borgata opened in July 2003, and is currently the newest casino/hotel complex in Atlantic City. It is also the casino that annually produces the most revenue of any in the city. The hotel features over 2,800 rooms, 800 of which are contained in the newly- opened Water Club, an upscale hotel that includes four pools and extensive retail space. The rooms in both hotels are among the nicest in Atlantic City.
The casino checks in at over 161,000 square feet, and contains 4,100 slot machines and over 200 table games, spanning the range of typical American table games along with Asian favorites like baccarat and Pai gow. There’s also a full service racebook here, though – as with the rest of Atlantic City – no sports betting is allowed.
The Borgata Casino is also the home to the largest (and in most players’ opinions, the best) poker room in Atlantic City. With 85 tables, you’ll be able to play no-limit and limit hold’em at any stakes level you desire, and both Omaha and Stud games are also regularly spread. The room also hosts daily poker tournaments, along with a World Poker Tour event and other major tournaments throughout the year.
Seen by many as being the top hotel and casino in AC, the Borgata is home to the cities top poker room
Harrah’s opened back in 1980, but has one of the newest expansions in Atlantic City; their latest hotel tower – the Waterfront Tower – just opened in 2008. There are now four towers in total, which combine to offer nearly 2,600 rooms for visitors.
The casino floor is in line with most of the larger casinos in the city, with 160,000 square feet of gaming space. There are over 3,800 machine games, more than 50 gaming tables, and a separate keno lounge.
Harrah’s Atlantic City also features a fairly sizable poker room. While it’s not at the same level as the Borgata or the Taj, it does feature 24 cash game tables, along with additional tables for large tournament events. Most games are Texas Hold’em, though Seven Card Stud is also spread on occasion.
The Trump Marina is the smallest of the Trump properties in Atlantic City. Recently, the hotel and casino were sold to Costal Development LLC, who planned to convert the complex to a Margaritaville theme. However, the deal fell through in 2009, meaning that for the near future at least, the Marina will remain a Donald Trump property.
One of the smallest of Atlantic City’s casinos, the Marina hotel has just 728 rooms in two towers; about 150 of these rooms are luxury suites, while the rest are fairly typical rooms for the city. However, despite the small size, there are a number of restaurants contained within, as well as a nightclub, extensive fitness and recreational areas, and 50,000 square feet of meeting space.
The casino isn’t tiny, either, covering nearly 75,000 square feet. There are close to 2,000 slots machines and over 90 table games, including a baccarat pit for high rollers. However, unlike most casinos in Atlantic City today, the Trump Marina does not have a poker room.