A chicken playing tic-tac-toe? Tropicana Atlantic City celebrates its 40th anniversary; Sting tix on sale

Tuesday, Tropicana Atlantic City marks its 40e birthday. For the occasion, return on the rather eventful history of the casino.

In the beginning

When it opened on November 23, 1981, the adult playground popularly known as Trop was Atlantic City’s eighth legal gambling den. Built by the Ramada hotel chain on the site of Ambassador Hotel (which hosted many legendary gangsters who came together in May 1929 to create the basic architecture of organized crime in the United States), it boasted of a full-service casino and a futuristic hotel tower of 521 pagoda-style units. In 1983, the Comedy stop, the city’s first venue devoted exclusively to stand-up comedy, opened on the ground floor of the tower. Among the emerging artists who appeared there were Ray romano, Rosie O’Donnell, Lewis Black and Drew carey (fun fact: Romano was performing at the club when he learned that CBS had bought his sitcom, Everyone loves Raymond). The Comedy Stop closed in 2015.

A family thing

In the late 1980s, AyCee was on the rise with its legal gambling monopoly east of the Mississippi. But Ramada’s costumes decided the city needed a family element. In 1988, an expansion project added a second hotel tower, but there were even more significant changes:

The property was renamed TropWorld and a family centric marketing plan was instituted. The expansion included a small indoor amusement center called Tivoli Pier which featured boardwalk-style games and a motif inspired by the late Victorian-era Atlantic City.

Although many people fondly remember the city’s heyday when it was a summer mecca for families, the kid-friendly strategy didn’t work; in 1996 Tivoli Pier was history and the property was renamed Tropicana Casino & Resort Atlantic City.

The games hens play

Arguably the most important period in the existence of Trop began when Dennis gomes was hired as the CEO of the casino. Gomes entered the gambling industry after a career in law enforcement in Nevada (it was he who initially led the investigation into the organized crime stranglehold at various Las Vegas casinos which was immortalized in the Martin scorsese movie, Casino). After being an executive at many Vegas properties, he was brought to Atlantic City in 1991 by Donald Trump to lead the Taj Mahal Casino-Resort (now Hard Rock Hotel Casino Atlantic City).

But it was at Trop that Gomes, who died at the age of 68 in 2012 while undergoing treatment for kidney disease, was a game-changer in Atlantic City. It was during his stay there that the Havana theme of the 1950s The neighborhood—AyCee’s only Vegas-style shopping, dining and entertainment complex has been built. This was the result of Gomes’ belief that in the face of the expansion of legal gambling into other states, Atlantic City casinos needed to offer more than table games, slots, entertainment, and vouchers. restaurants.

While The Quarter and its Havana Tour hotel was a success since it opened on November 23, 2004, it was also the site of the worst construction accident of the legal casino era. On October 30, 2003, several floors of The Quarter’s partially constructed parking lot collapsed. Four people died and 21 others were injured.

Construction eventually resumed and The Quarter opened, but Gomes, who fully understood that casinos were, in essence, part of the entertainment industry, was unhappy with its sparkling mall and insisted on pushing back. limits of marketing. Among its promotional concepts was the presentation of large-scale and long-term exhibitions devoted to subjects such as John F. Kennedy, the Titanic and, most controversially, the history of torture. But the move that garnered the most notoriety (via national media coverage) was the introduction of a chicken that played Tic-Tac-Toe against the guests Too.

Gomes, who preferred khaki tracksuits or pants and open-necked polo shirts rather than the expensive suits worn by most of the gaming industry leaders, eventually left Tropicana. In 2010 he joined the Central New Jersey businessman Morris Bailey to buy Resorts in Atlantic City, where he continued to innovate until his untimely death (among his projects was the creation of Prohibition, the first gay nightclub located in an American casino).

Downward spiral

After Gomes left, Tropicana headed for a long period of neglect and disrepair under a series of owners (including billionaire Carl Ichan). An owner, British Columbia, allowed things to deteriorate so much that in 2007 the New Jersey Casino Control Commission denied the company’s request to renew its operating license.

Bad luck hit the property again in April 2008 when a malfunction brought down a 12-passenger elevator with 20 people on board. Fortunately, the car’s emergency braking system limited damage to minor injuries sustained by four guests.

Hello, Caesars!

Unlike so many gambling dens which opened around the same time (e.g. Brighton, later Sands, Playboy, Claridge and Steve wynnis original Gold nugget), the Trop managed to survive. It entered a new era in 2020 when Reno, Nevada Resorts in Eldorado (which bought the casino in 2018) merged with Caesars Entertainment, making Tropicana part of the Caesars gaming empire.

So far, that latest move has resulted in some audience changes for the Trop, but it makes sense to assume that will change in the months and years to come.

Spring fantasy for Sting

Tickets are now on sale for the May 13-14 performances of the pop and rock deity (and tantric sex fan) Prick at Hard Rock.

Der Stingle’s concerts at Rock are part of his My songs global road trip that actually started two and a half years ago (and which, of course, was interrupted by the global pandemic). For tickets, click here.

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