Once Elegant, This Atlantic City, NJ, Casino Now Sits Barren and Bare
When you think of the casinos in Atlantic City, you immediately think of high rollers, blinking lights, the clinking of slot machines, big stars, fancy restaurants, and tons of nightlife.
And that's true -- except for one place in the World's Play Ground.
While Atlantic City's casinos have had some rough spells over the years, just about all of them have bounced back to some degree.
Trump Taj Mahal struggled but is now succeeding as Hard Rock. Revel became Ocean. Borgata redefined the city. Showboat has bounced back as a non-gaming hotel. Resorts just celebrated a big anniversary.
On the flip side, the Sands got demolished and nothing ever replaced it. The Playboy became the Atlantis and the World's Fair before it got bulldozed. Trump Plaza came and went.
And then there's the old Atlantic Club. A high-rise at the Jersey Shore that has sat still for nearly a decade.
A quick history
As is the case with many things in Atlantic City, there are storylines upon storylines with this casino but here's a very short version of its legacy.
- The history of this property goes back to 1980 when it opened as the original Golden Nugget Hotel & Casino in Atlantic City (not to be confused with the current-day Golden Nugget by the marina), the sixth gaming hall in the city.
- Just three years later, it was the top-earning casino in Atlantic City, which is remarkable since it was one of the smallest casinos in town.
- In 1987, the Golden Nugget was sold to Bally Manufacturing for $440 million and it became Bally's Grand Hotel and Casino.
- In the mid-90s, Hilton Hotels acquired Bally Entertainment and the building became the Atlantic City Hilton.
- In the summer of 2011, Hilton ended a licensing agreement with the firm operating the building and their name was removed; the property was rebranded as the very generic-sounding "ACH Casino Resort."
- On February 7th, 2012, ACH underwent yet another name change, this time to The Atlantic Club Casino Hotel, a casino that attempted to attract locals, which ultimately failed.
- The Atlantic Club closed on January 13, 2014.
Since The Atlantic Club closed nearly a decade ago, not much has happened. The property has been sold a handful of times, each seemingly with a promise to reopen the building as a hotel and/or casino.
An idea was floated (no pun intended) at least once to turn it into a waterpark or family resort. That never happened.
Success surrounds it
In September 2018, Stockton University was developing its new Atlantic City campus and attempted to buy the high-rise, but that deal never materialized.
In the years that followed, Stockton completely transformed that entire end of the city, leaving The Atlantic Club behind as a glaring sore thumb on the city's skyline.
- I'M BATMAN: Meet One of Atlantic City’s Amazing Characters
Today, as it has for years, The Atlantic Club sits sad and empty as just about every other casino in Atlantic City does well.
A drive around the property finds people inside doing some work, but I believe it is just some remediation work and nothing towards a grand reopening.
From what I've read, it's pretty bad inside having suffered from years of neglect.
A walk around
Over the past several months, every time I was in Atlantic City I made a point to drive past The Atlantic Club to take some pictures. It's interesting to contrast how busy other casinos are in town compared to this one which sits there as a shell of its former self.
The last time I was in AC, I drove past it and saw someone urinating on the side of the parking garage. In a weird way, that seemed kinda appropriate for how things sometimes are in the World's Play Ground. One day you're on top of the world and the next you are getting peed on.
So let's take a look at The Atlantic Club as it sits today -- and keep scrolling as there are some exclusive construction pictures from 1980 down below.
NOTE: This casino is NOT abandoned. A large company owns it and they have security in place. DO NOT break in to explore the building. You will be arrested. All of the pictures taken below were from city streets outside the building.