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May 26, 1978: Atlantic City Brings Legalized Gambling To the East Coast

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The 1920s, with tourism at its peak, are considered by many historians as Atlantic City's golden age. Atlantic City inspired the U.S. version of the board game Monopoly, especially the street names.

But by the late 1960s, many of the resort's once great hotels were suffering from high vacancy rates.

Resorts International, which was formed in March 1968, first became interested in developing a resort in Atlantic City after the company learned of a planned fourth attempt to bring casino gambling to New Jersey by limiting it to Atlantic City. The company heavily contributed to the November 1976 gaming referendum which successfully passed that year.

In an effort at revitalizing the city, New Jersey voters in 1976 passed a referendum, approving casino gambling for Atlantic City. Immediately following the legislation, the Chalfonte-Haddon Hall Hotel was converted into Resorts International.

Resorts—Atlantic City's first legal casino—opened on May 26, 1978 with crowds of people lined up on the boardwalk.

Read more: Jim Cramer Says Don't Bet on Casino Stocks

Next, the old Ambassador Hotel was purchased by Ramada in 1978 and gutted to become the Tropicana Casino and Resort Atlantic City. Other casinos were soon constructed along the Boardwalk and, later, in the marina district for a total of nine today.

In 2018, Atlantic City's total gaming revenue was $2.86 billion. However, in recent years, the city has faced another decline. Some casinos have shuttered and, most recently, Atlantic City has been dragged down, along with most of the world, do to the coronavirus pandemic.

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