Betting in Atlantic City

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Located in South New Jersey, the resort town known as Atlantic City saw its first commercial hotel built in 1853. Over the next century, it would become famous for America’s first seaside “Boardwalk” in 1870, the invention of a confection referred to as Salt Water Taffy in 1883, the founding of the annual Miss America Pageant in 1921 and serving as the model and inspiration for the popular board game called “Monopoly” in 1934.

Shortly after World War II, the Atlantic City Race Course opened at Mays Landing, bringing the excitement of thoroughbred wagering to the South Jersey shore. As the area’s first gambling establishment, it attracted such illustrious shareholders as comedian Bob Hope, crooner Frank Sinatra, big band leaders Harry James and Xavier Cugat, and Olympic gold medalist John B. Kelly Sr. Racing continues to this day at ACRC, and since 2001 the course has been owned and operated by Greenwood Racing, Inc.

On Memorial Day Weekend in 1978, Resorts International opened its doors along the Boardwalk and introduced casino-style gaming to Atlantic City, thus becoming the first legal gambling hall in the Eastern United States. The Resorts Casino has a 100,000 square foot gaming space hosting 2,125 gaming machines and 87 table games. The property has seven restaurants, two bars and a hotel with 942 rooms.

One after another, casino-resorts were licensed for operation in Atlantic City, including Caesars and Bally’s in 1979, Harrah’s and the Hilton (now the Atlantic Club) in 1980, and the Tropicana in 1981. These were joined in the mid-1980s by Trump Plaza, Trump Marina and the Showboat, and then followed by the Trump Taj Mahal in 1990 and the Borgata in 2003.

The very latest addition to the “Gambling Capital of the East Coast” is the Revel Casino-Resort, which opened for business in the spring of 2012. The casino’s 130,000-square-foot gaming space is open 24 hours a day, featuring 2,439 gaming machines and 134 table and poker games. Attached to the property is a hotel with 1,800 rooms, three fine dining restaurants, a 5,500-seat amphitheatre, nightclubs, a spa, an upscale shopping arcade and some 250,000 square feet of flexible function space for meetings, conferences and events.

Atlantic City casinos differ from those found in Las Vegas and other parts of the United States in a number of ways. Most obvious is the absence of Sports Books. Although many of the venues contain Race Books or “Simulcasts” for horse racing, betting on sports is illegal in New Jersey, so there is no wagering on football, basketball, baseball or the like.

Another noticeable difference is the lack of small local casinos throughout the resort town. That’s because New Jersey law stipulates as a qualification for gaming license approval that the gambling establishment must have at least 500 rooms. As a result, all twelve of Atlantic City’s casino-resorts rely on overnight visitors as their primary clientele. They attract patrons from New York, Philadelphia, Boston, and Baltimore with generous “comps,” such as free meals and rooms, while offering top-flight entertainment, from championship boxing matches to headlining comedians and magicians, Broadway-style stage productions, and music concerts by some of the world’s top stars.

Visitors to Atlantic City looking for gambling action inevitably find themselves walking along the Boardwalk at some point. The 60-foot-wide, planked promenade has been expanded from its original one-mile length to over four miles, with piers added and businesses springing up all along the way. Today it serves as the “heart, soul, and backbone” of Atlantic City, providing easy access to the casinos as well as shops, restaurants, ocean charters, fishing, sightseeing, and more.

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