Atlantic City's former Showboat casino reopens as hotel

Staff Writer
Columbus Monthly

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) — An Atlantic City casino that went out of business two years ago is once again welcoming guests after reopening Friday as a hotel.

The Showboat reopened to guests with 852 hotel rooms and suites. The building will keep the Showboat name, for now, but no longer offer casino games.

New owner Bart Blatstein told reporters Friday that he plans to rebrand the hotel by next year, but didn't disclose possible new names.

"It removes one of the eyesores," Atlantic City Councilman Marty Small told The Philadelphia Inquirer. "It's a big day for the city of Atlantic City. It's a win."

The opening was done without much pomp or circumstance and Blatstein told The Press of Atlantic City he didn't want to "over promise and under-deliver."

"There was nobody in here greeting you or anything," guest Elaine Ruggiero told the newspaper. "I think there should be music or something."

The Showboat was one of four casinos to close in the city in 2014 as it battled competition from nearby states. Owner Caesars Entertainment shut down the still-profitable Mardi Gras-themed casino in the name of lessening competition for the three other casinos it owns in Atlantic City: Harrah's, Caesars and Bally's.

After a disastrous sale to Stockton University, and a failed effort to flip it to another casino owner, the Showboat was sold in January to Blatstein, a Philadelphia developer, who last year bought and re-branded the former Pier Shops complex into The Playground.

Blatstein's plans to make that property into an entertainment destination have hit some rocky moments, including news Friday that a nightclub there will now become a comedy club, the Inquirer reported. The nightclub opened in March to replace a concert space that failed last summer.

The Showboat's reopening comes as union workers at the Trump Taj Mahal next door enter the second week of a strike. Workers from Local 54 of the Unite-HERE union continue round-the-clock picketing of that casino.

Meanwhile, the Revel casino on the other side of the Showboat remains closed. Glenn Straub, who purchased the $2.4 billion property for $82 million last year in bankruptcy court, had planned to open it last month, but changed his mind after state gambling regulators insisted he get a casino license.