When it comes to gambling, few states have a storied history of gambling like New Jersey does. Apart from Nevada, no other state has managed to embrace legal gambling quite like the Garden state. Players can enjoy a varied selection of gaming choices in New Jersey including land-based casino gambling, legal online sports betting at some of the best New Jersey sportsbooks, as well as online casino betting at top casino sites.

When New Jersey legalized casinos for the first time in 1976, the move became one of the best things to ever happen to the Garden State. Gambling added billions upon billions to New Jersey’s tax rolls. This was all thanks to the day-trippers that would commute in buses from far and wide to plop their hard-earned coins in slots and various casino games.

With the majority of the state’s casino situated in Atlantic City, it seemed as though everything was running smoothly, with the Atlantic City gambling market peaking in 2006. However, when close by Pennsylvania legalized gambling, things began to change.

Almost immediately, neighboring states like Pennsylvania, which for the most part only dealt with the lottery, charity games, and horse racing, started siphoning off customers from Atlantic City. Slowly but surely, New Jersey’s fortunes and revenues started dwindling, leading to the closure of numerous casinos across the state.

The year 2014 was the state’s toughest as the former East Coast gambling giant saw 4 out of its 12 casinos shut down that year. The market for new players dried up, which made it even harder for New Jersey casinos to expand. It is worth noting, however, that the series of casino closures in the past few years is what has helped the casinos that still stand today to thrive.

Fortunately, several new operators have stepped up and refreshed the New Jersey gambling scene with a new consolidated casino lineup that has helped to brighten the outlook in the state today. So which casinos have failed over the years as some continue to thrive? Here are the worst casino flops in New Jersey’s history:

Atlantic Club

Formerly the Atlantic City Hilton, the Atlantic Club established itself as a local casino catering to low rollers when it was first established. Sadly, the casino closed its doors in January 2013 allowing Caesars Entertainment to purchase the property while Tropicana acquired all the gaming equipment. 

Later that year, Caesars Entertainment put up the property for sale, a move that saw the property purchased TJM Properties. TJM then announced in October 2019 that Colosseo Atlantic City had purchased the property with plans to transform it into a non-gaming hotel.

Trump Plaza

Harrah’s at Trump Plaza was once the largest casino in New Jersey’s history when it first opened its doors back in May 1984. The casino was opened as a result of a joint partnership between Donald Trump and the gaming division at Holiday Inn. Harrah’s at Trump Plaza was renamed Trump Plaza when Trump bought out Harrah’s interest in the property.

When the property filed bankruptcy in 1992, Trump’s publicly traded Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts took ownership, adding a new hotel tower in 1996 that led to the hotel’s rebranding to Trump Entertainment Resorts. In 2001, Trump Entertainment Resorts announced that it was looking for a buyer or a financing partner that would fund renovations. After failing to find a buyer, the casino officially closed its doors in September 2014.

The Showboat

Before the Showboat closed down, it seemed to be running successfully under the Caesars Entertainment umbrella. However, since Caesars Entertainment was battling bankruptcy at the time, it opted to shut down Showboat in an effort to lower the company’s overhead. The casino finally shut down in August 2014. 

Revel Casino

Revel is often referred to as Atlantic City’s most calamitous failure. It opened to customers in 2012 and attempted to bring the Las Vegas feel to Atlantic City with its primary focus on fine dining and the night club scene. Gaming was purely a bonus, which largely caused its consequent downfall.

The Trump Taj Mahal

Trump Taj Mahal was originally opened in 1990 and it stood as the largest casino in the world during its opening. Soon after opening, Trump Taj Mahal started experiencing financial difficulties and went through several bankruptcy proceedings and ownership changes during the 25 years that it was in business.

The Trump Taj Mahal shut down in October 2016 while it was undergoing a labor dispute. In 2017, Hard Rock International purchased the property and funded a $500 million renovation. It then re-opened as the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City in June 2018 and soon became one of the top casinos in the New Jersey gambling market.

Successful casinos that are still up and running

Golden Nugget Atlantic City

Golden Nugget Atlantic City casino was originally constructed by the Hilton Hotels. However, when the company was denied a gambling license, it sold the complex to Donald Trump, whereby it opened in 1985 under the name Trump’s Castle. 

In 1997, it was renamed Trump Marina until Landry’s purchased the property in 2011, changing its name to the Golden Nugget Atlantic City. Today, the Golden Nugget Atlantic City boasts approximately 75,000 square feet of gaming space and 728 hotel rooms making it one of the most successful casinos in the state.

Harrah’s

Harrah’s Resort Atlantic City was the first-ever property established under the Harrah’s brand. It opened in November 1980 and was the first casino not to be located on the Boardwalk. Today, the casino enjoys 177,000 square feet of gaming space, which is filled with an excess of 5,500 slots and video poker games. It also has roughly 140 table games and a 40-table poker room.

Caesars Atlantic City

Caesars Atlantic City was first opened as the Boardwalk Regency in 1979 and was the 2nd largest casino in Atlantic City. In 1987, Caesars renamed the property Caesars Atlantic City and expanded its gaming floor, adding 2 hotel towers in the course of 20 years. Today, the property has more than 1000 rooms and 145,000 square feet of gaming space, hosting more than 3,000 slot machines and 135 table games.

Final thoughts

New Jersey is the second most popular gambling destination in the country and it has a long gambling tradition that dates back to the 17th century when the lottery was offered to help fund soldiers during the American Revolution. Although the New Jersey gambling market is not as flourishing as it once was, the future looks bright thanks to legalized online sports betting. 

As the industry continues to make leaps forward, New Jersey’s fortunes are expected to change. Hopefully, the Garden State will be able to reclaim its place as the gambling darling of America in the future.