A History of Golden Nugget AC and Its Online Casino
The Golden Nugget Casino & Hotel in Atlantic City today was originally Trump’s Castle, while the original Golden Nugget Atlantic City eventually became the Atlantic Club, which closed in 2014.
The current Golden Nugget Casino & Hotel was once a Bally’s property, but was purchased by Landry’s in 2012 and turned into the Golden Nugget.
Golden Nugget online casino was a market trendsetter, having been the first in New Jersey to have at least 400 games as of 2017.
Atlantic City has a fascinating past that has contributed to its sharp increase in popularity and value as the gambling mecca of the East Coast. Part of that interesting history is the Golden Nugget Casino & Hotel. The Golden Nugget AC we know and love today isn’t actually the original property that first showed up in the ‘80s. But all the events that brought the Golden Nugget to AC in the first place, took it away, and then brought the brand back are part of what makes its online casino a leader in the market.
The Timeline of Golden Nugget – Atlantic City
Let’s dive into the history of the Golden Nugget Casino & Hotel in Atlantic City as well as its online casino counterpart.
1980: The Original Golden Nugget Hotel and Casino – Atlantic City
The current Golden Nugget Atlantic City isn’t the same one that first arrived from Las Vegas to Atlantic City in the ‘80s. In fact, Steve Wynn, one of the most influential (and often controversial) casino moguls of the time, brought Golden Nugget to AC after his success of building and running the sister location in Vegas.
The Golden Nugget Hotel & Casino was built at the intersection of Boston and Pacific Avenues. Joel Bergman and Atlandia Design designed the entire property, including its guest rooms, casino floor, other gaming rooms, and amenities. This, the sixth casino to be built in Atlantic City since the state legalized casino gambling in 1976, cost $140 million to build. It was a relatively small property by that time’s standards, but it soon became the top-earning casino in AC.
Wynn featured in the resort’s commercials, and he even brought along other famous faces that frequently performed there, like Frank Sinatra. Other star performers include Dean Martin, Don Rickles, and Dolly Parton.
1985: Trump’s Castle — The Future Home of the Current-Day Golden Nugget
The resort that we now know as the Golden Nugget was first built in the 1980s as a Hilton property. It cost $275 million to build, almost double the cost of the original Golden Nugget five years earlier. But when the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement denied Hilton’s gaming license due to shady connections with organized crime, Trump Entertainment Resorts scooped up the property.
With a few other properties over at Trump Plaza, Donald Trump purchased the property for an unknown sum, though one could assume it was likely a steal for the future president. Once opened, it was the 10th casino hotel built in AC since the state legalized casino gambling in the late 1970s. During the ‘80s and ‘90s, this resort served as a stage for game shows, like Yahtzee and the Trump Card.
1987 – 1996: Original Golden Nugget Sold and Renamed
Atlantic City saw a huge building boom in the ‘80s all the way through the year 2000. Many property owners saw opportunities to cash in on their hard work and sell their high-value casino/hotel/resort properties for even larger sums of cash.
But Wynn didn’t get along with local politicians, so he moved back to Las Vegas to establish The Mirage. He sold Golden Nugget to Bally’s, which then renamed the facility Bally’s Grand Hotel & Casino. It would be more than 30 years before the Golden Nugget would reemerge in Atlantic City.
While Bally’s and other casino properties thrived during Atlantic City’s heyday, Bally’s had issues maintaining profits, much like other properties in the area that were sold as the effects of the heyday wore off.
1996: Bally’s to Hilton
After nearly 10 years as a Bally’s property, Hilton purchased The Grand in 1996, renaming it once again. The Atlantic City Hilton also struggled during the 1990s and early 2000s. Hilton also tried to keep the property afloat while still expanding and improving other properties in Atlantic City, including the flailing ResortsAtlantic City, and in Las Vegas.
They eventually lost their ownership rights due to outstanding mortgage debt for both Atlantic City Hilton and Las Vegas Hilton, and the old Golden Nugget turned Bally’s Grand turned Atlantic City Hilton was up for sale.
1997: Castle to Marina
Around the same time, Trump Entertainment Resorts was also struggling to maintain the AC heyday. Trump Entertainment Resorts cannibalized itself by opening the ill-fated Trump Taj Mahal, which cut into the Castle’s profits. The process of building and repurposing the Taj Mahal, plus the casino property value downturn, would put Trump’s enterprise into serious financial debt.
Trump entered debt restructuring to save both Trump’s Castle and the Trump Taj Mahal in the early ‘90s, creating a new entertainment company called Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts. During this time, Hilton boldly offered to buy back the property after having lost their gaming license in the ‘80s. Trump refused.
After restructuring and creating the new company, Trump ultimately sold his controlling share of the Castle to Hard Rock and had the property rethemed from the medieval castle to the area-appropriate ocean marina. The Trump Marina was born.
2011: The Golden Nugget Returns
The failure of the Trump Taj Mahal and the lackluster rebranding of Trump Marina had Trump struggling for about seven years. It was in 2011 that Landry’s purchased Trump Marina, finally bringing back the Golden Nugget name to Atlantic City. They bought it for a cool $38 million and renovated the property in 2012 with an updated look, new restaurants and amenities, and an even better outdoor marina area.
The original Golden Nugget location, which was known as ACH from 2011 to 2012 and then the Atlantic Club from 2012, officially closed in 2014.
History of the Golden Nugget Online Casino
After Landry’s purchased Trump Marina and rebranded the resort to the Golden Nugget Atlantic City, they also established the Golden Nugget online casino in 2013. This was also the year when New Jersey legalized online gambling in the state.
Over the next four years, the site grew its player-base and even offered 400 games by 2017. It became the first online casino in the state to reach that mark. In four more years, Golden Nugget online casino doubled its game selection to 858 games. In addition, Golden Nugget is credited as the first online casino to bring live dealer games to the U.S. online gaming industry.
Since that time, Golden Nugget Online Gaming has received many awards from eGaming Review (EGR) Global, including Operator of the Year in 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020.
Is Golden Nugget Online Casino the Best?
While Golden Nugget has received many awards from industry regulators and trendsetters, the online casino actually ranks number 19 on our list of online casinos in New Jersey. In our reviews of all legal online casinos in New Jersey, we reviewed each site’s game selection, customer service, welcome bonus offerings, and website loading speed. Unfortunately, Golden Nugget fell short on customer service efficiency and got last place for website load speed. But we found that Golden Nugget was in the top five online casinos for game selection and in the top 10 for welcome bonus promotions. Check out the rest of our reviews to see how Golden Nugget stacks up against other online casinos in New Jersey so you can find the best one for your gaming needs.
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