This Is a very consequential day in Atlantic City history.

You can’t overstate what the Atlantic City Hotel Casinos have meant to the region and state.

On this date, exactly 43 years ago today, on May 26, 1978, Resorts Casino Hotel opened its doors for the first time and Atlantic City was officially a legal Hotel Casino jurisdiction.

They opened the property as Resorts International Hotel and Casino.

Former New Jersey Governor Brendan Byrne was on hand. Byrne cut the ceremonial ribbon and said, “My father once told me never to bet on anything but Notre Dame and the Yankees” (also my two favorite teams).

"For those not willing to follow that advice, the casino is now open,” said Governor Byrne.

Byrne and the New Jersey state legislature were very concerned at the time about organized crime infiltrating the Atlantic City casinos; prompting Byrne to publicly say for them “to keep the hell out.”

People lined up outside and waited hours for their chance to play the 84 table games and 893 slot machines.

There was initially 33,735 square feet of gaming space at Resorts Casino Hotel.

Legendary singer Steve Lawrence (ceremonially) rolled the dice at a craps table and Atlantic City had officially entered a golden era of economic prosperity.

Standing directly next to Steve Lawrence was former New Jersey State Senator Steve Perskie.

We reached out to Perskie for his reflections of 43 years ago today. Perskie drew from his experiences of the past, present, while also looking towards the future.

“We’ve come a very long way since 1978, but we’ve still got a long way to go to create the City that we dreamed about,” said Perskie.

“The good news is that it seems that all of the separate interests are now in a position to work together to build our future,” said Perskie.

“The neighborhood associations, the Chamber of Commerce, the Casino Association, the Boardwalk Merchants, CRDA, developers such as AC DEVCO, Stockton University, are all working closely with Mayor Small and his staff and with the Lieutenant Governor to create our future. I am very optimistic about the coming years,” concluded  Perskie.

Tom Cantone, Corporate President of Sports & Entertainment for Mohegan Sun Gaming, International shared:

“When you are the first game in town ... you are the leader that introduced gaming to a world that only existed in Las Vegas,” said Cantone.

“Resorts showed the way for all casinos to follow… And they reminded everyone how to reinvent themselves when Jimmy Buffett performed on the beach to thousands to open Margaritaville. My compliments to Mark (Giannantonio) and his wonderful team,” said Cantone.

Resorts Casino Hotel’s instant positive impact created a wave of continued  development. Construction cranes would be active in the skyline of Atlantic City for decades to follow.

Atlantic City’s first Casino Hotel, Resorts Casino Hotel is still here today under the ownership of Morris Bailey and leadership of president and chief executive officer Mark Giannantonio.

Resorts Casino Hotel has endured every economic  downturn that Atlantic City has faced over the many decades.

Resorts Casino Hotel has the # 1 rated Hotel Casino Restaurant in America, Capriccio Italian Restaurant by USA Today.

Since its early days, Resorts Casino Hotel has added a second hotel tower; the sprawling Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville and Draft Kings sports book; along with a massive, multimillion dollar property wide reimagination.

43 years ago, Atlantic City was in financial ruination.  Having never recovered from the disastrous 1964 Democratic National Convention.

Atlantic City presented poorly, with substandard rooms and a lack of proper hard goods and soft goods.

The national media savaged Atlantic City; which resulted in its reputation as a destination resort being destroyed.

The state wide referendum (1976) to approve Casino Gaming in Atlantic City only passed. It was a monumental turning point for The World’s Playground (WPG).

Along came Resorts Casino Hotel, birthed from the former Mary Carter Paint Company (the actual Resorts parent company) and Atlantic City has never been the same since.

With the exception of a few minor recessions and one Great Recession, it’s nearing 1/2 century of significant economic prosperity for Atlantic City.

“As we are about to embark on the 43rd summer season since Resorts opened in 1978, it is truly a testament to our wonderful team members who consistently provide all of our guests with an exceptional, one of a kind experience,” said Mark Giannantonio President & CEO, Resorts Casino Hotel.

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SOURCE: The archives of Harry Hurley.