Things are looking way up for Atlantic City’s oldest gambling establishment. A few years ago, it was thought that Resorts Casino would be swept away in the cascading avalanche that saw four other operators go out of business in the last two years. Now turning a profit, managers are overjoyed and awaiting the approval of PokerStars in New Jersey.
The very first casino to open its doors in Atlantic City on May 26, 1978, Resorts Casino has struggled in recent years. In 2010, after failing to pay its mortgage for more than a year, the casino was saved from imminent bankruptcy when casino mogul Dennis Gomes and real estate tycoon Morris Bailey teamed up to purchase the property for over $30 million.
Gomes revitalized the casino with a complete renovation and new marketing tactics, but profits were not forthcoming. Gomes passed away in 2012, leaving Bailey in charge of a business that suffered $12 million in losses that year. He elected to team up with the Mohegan Indian tribe, and things have been looking up ever since.
Mark Giannatonio, who signed on as Resorts Casino President in 2013, said “it was dead” when he took the position. But that year, a $35 million entertainment complex, compete with new restaurants and bars, turned things around. “It has been brought back to life,” Giannantonio extolled. “Last year we made $2.5 million. And this year we will do far better than that.”
Resorts is now one of the most popular tourist destination on the Boardwalk. It is doing so well, in fact, that just this week a $9.4 million expansion of the establishment’s conference facilities was announced. At this point, the only thing that could make both the owners and patrons of Resorts Casino any happier would be the approval of an online poker license for PokerStars in New Jersey.
The Atlantic City casino previously entered into a partnership deal with PokerStars to launch an internet gaming site in the Garden State, but for the last two years, the NJ Division of Gaming Enforcement has stalled on the online poker giant’s application.
In the beginning, the DGE said PokerStars was ineligible because of its owner, Isai Scheinberg, who was still wanted by the US Department of Justice on an indictment stemming from the events of Black Friday in 2011. That problem was eliminated when the Schienberg’s sold Rational Group, PokerStars’ parent company, to Amaya Gaming in 2014.
Since then, the DGE has continuously delayed PokerStars application for a license, neither denying nor approving the submission with no viable explanation. Thus, in February of this year, Resorts chose to go ahead with the launch of an online casino operation, but said they won’t move forward with online poker until their partner arrives.
Bailey has great plans for the future, if and when PokerStars does finally receive approval. He said one of his first endeavors will be to construct a “big PokerStars poker room” to complement their online poker presence in the New Jersey. Should that goal come to fruition, Resorts Casino will surely dominate the New Jersey poker market, both live and online.