Atlantic City’s Showboat Hotel Hopes to Bring Back Casino Gaming

Atlantic City skyline
Owner of the Showboat Hotel in Atlantic City wants it to be a casino again.

30-second summary

  • Showboat Casino shut down in 2014 and has operated as a hotel since 2016
  • Developer Bart Blatstein wants to bring back casino gaming to the Showboat
  • If approved, Atlantic City would have 10 casinos in operation

In 2014, four casinos shut down in Atlantic City, including the Showboat. For the past three years, the Showboat has been operating as a non-gambling hotel. The owner would now like to try offering casino gaming again. Bart Blatstein, a developer from Philadelphia, wants to bring back casino games to the property. If approved, Atlantic City would be home to 10 fully-functioning casinos.

Bringing back casino gaming

In the past, Atlantic City was home to 12 casinos. Four casinos, including the Showboat, shut down due to nearby competition. The Revel and Trump Taj Mahal also shut down in 2014, but two have reopened under new names as of 2018. The Revel is now the Ocean Resort Casino and the Taj Mahal operates under the Hard Rock Casino brand.

If the Showboat returns to gambling, only the Atlantic Club would remain closed. Several deals have been in the works for the venue, but nothing has worked out.

Preliminary approval

Blatstein earned preliminary approval from the New Jersey Casino Control Commission to start the casino licensing process. The developer feels there is room in Atlantic City for another casino.

Mr. Blatstein said: “There are 104 casinos in Las Vegas in the middle of nowhere. We have nine casinos well within a short trip from one-third of the nation’s population. The market is looking for something different.”

What that something different is remains a mystery. Blatstein has yet to reveal the concept for the Showboat Casino, but a report provided to the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement revealed a portion of the plans.

Reportedly, the bus depot of the property would become a family entertainment center. As far as gambling is concerned, the property would focus on slots, table games, and sports betting. Online gaming would also be in the mix.

Working around deed restriction

Blatstein has had to work around an existing prohibition of the property to bring back gambling to the facility. The Showboat was closed in June of 2014 by its former owner, Caesars Entertainment. Caesars decided to place a deed restriction on the property. The restriction prevents the facility from being used as a casino for 10 years after the sale.

Blatstein purchased the property in 2016 and reopened it as a non-gambling hotel. He plans to work around the deed restriction by creating the casino on adjoining property. A 123,000-square-foot lot being used for beach volleyball would be converted to a casino facility. Because the property is separate from the Showboat, it is not bound by the deed restriction.

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