Exploring the Rich History of Casinos in New Jersey

Today, Atlantic City features world-famous casino resorts where people worldwide flock together. From innovative slot machines to rewarding table game tournaments, Atlantic City Casinos spare no expense to deliver the best in gambling and entertainment. Speaking of entertainment, Atlantic City Casinos compete with live entertainment and professional boxing bouts in the case of Harrah's.

But how exactly did Atlantic City Casino climb the mountain of success? This guide takes you into its humble origins to today's stellar and popular Atlantic City Casino venues.

Atlantic City Didn't Always Have Gambling

While it might sound like a brain twister, Atlantic City didn't always sanction legalized gambling. Between 1844 to 1939, the world-famous Beach Boardwalk was free of organized gambling and casinos. However, in 1939, voters approved race track gaming.

The Freehold Raceway was officially opened in 1939, and in 1953, select non-profit organizations could hold bingo raffles. Based on this stellar success, the slot and table game barrier officially fell in 1959 in the Garden State. And some years later, New Jersey became the first state to legalize the state lottery.

And for the ultimate cherry on top, Atlantic City residents voted to allow casinos in 1976. Resorts International became the first of many illustrious Atlantic City Casinos to open their doors. At this time, Atlantic City was the only place to have casinos in New Jersey. Stilling going strong today, the Resorts Casino remains in its current position on the Boardwalk.

Casino Expansion

The 1980s would usher in the glory days for Atlantic City Casinos. Capitalizing on abandoned buildings and many failing hotels in the area, Atlantic City's expansion produced more than a dozen of casinos between the late 1970s and early 1980s. This also propelled a booming construction industry to repurpose these old buildings into gambling powerhouses.

As the 1980s pressed on, former President Donald Trump would stamp his name in Atlantic City lore. Atlantic City Casino would reach its apex with the Trump Taj Mahal and Trump Plaza. Also, Trump Plaza would host Wrestlemania 4 and five, two of the most successful box-office Wrestlemania tickets today. In 1988 alone, Atlantic City Casinos outpaced Las Vegas casinos, nearly three billion to Las Vegas' $2 billion.

Also, Atlantic City Casinos in the 1980s were hosts of prized boxing fights, particularly Mike Tyson's fights during his first run as champion.

Atlantic City Casino's Slow Down

As the 1990s pressed on, so did the American recession. As a result, with tourism down, Atlantic City Casinos suffered. The once-booming construction industry also waned. And during the 2000s, some of these illustrious casinos were forced to close their doors. Also, more states began allowing casinos, including neighboring New York, adding to Atlantic City's decline.

The Rebirth

In 2013, New Jersey became the third state to legalize online gambling thanks to the Supreme Court's overturning of the sports betting ban. With this move, New Jersey became the hub for prominent casinos like BetMGM and BetNJ to reinvest in Atlantic City. Prominent casinos like Bally's and Hard Rock, which already have a terrestrial presence, immediately launched online casino versions to ride the momentum and tide.

Also, giant casinos like Borgata, Oceans Resort, and Casesar renovated their hotel suites. And in some cases, added new towers to usher in a new and prosperous wave for Atlantic City Casinos.