Showboat Atlantic City owner Bart Blatstein believe there’s an appetite for non-gaming in town, and he’s ready to satisfy it.
Over the weekend, the Lucky Snake at Showboat, a more than $7 million investment, opened inside the former casino resort. Billed as New Jersey’s largest arcade, the venue features more than 300 games, a sports bar, a boxing ring, e-sports gaming, live entertainment stages, and a speakeasy that pays tribute to the town’s history and involvement in prohibition.
What better way to kick off the family-friendly resort Showboat than to open up the largest arcade and sports bar in New Jersey?” Blatstein asked.
The 85,000-square-foot arcade and entertainment space features fun for all ages, including classics such as Skee-Ball, Pac-Man, and claw machines, but also the latest technology games, such as virtual reality.
“People can walk out of a movie not enjoying the movie. People can walk out of a casino and not have a good time, especially if they lose money. But who doesn’t have a good time at an arcade? Everybody loves an arcade,” Blatstein added.
Folding on Casino
Blatstein and his Tower Investments real estate firm, based in Philadelphia, purchased the shuttered Showboat in January of 2016 from Stockton University for $18 million. The school sold the property after it couldn’t obtain permits to reutilize the resort and its more than 1,300 guestrooms into campus housing.
Stockton acquired the resort from Caesars Entertainment, which closed the casino in 2014 to reduce competition at its other properties in town.
Blatstein’s early moves seemed to suggest he would seek to circumvent the deed restriction Caesars placed on the Showboat that prevents it from housing a casino. In 2019, the New Jersey Casino Reinvestment Development Authority (CRDA) approved of Blatstein’s wishes to rezone and divide the property into new lots of record.
Blatstein that same year obtained a “certificate of compliance” from the New Jersey Casino Control Commission, the first of many steps in becoming licensed to operate a casino in Atlantic City.
There was much speculation that Blatstein would build a new structure on what is currently outdoor beach volleyball courts, and perhaps place slot machines and table games inside. But that is no longer the case, as the developer is moving full-steam ahead with non-gaming.
Arcade Only Beginning
Blatstein says his goal with the Showboat is to become “the first true year-round family resort in Atlantic City.” The Lucky Snake arcade, which Atlantic City Mayor Mary Small Sr. calls “a Dave & Buster’s on steroids,” is just the start.
Blatstein has secured $2.5 million in annual tax credits for 20 years from the CRDA that will help build an indoor waterpark. The 100,000-square-foot attraction is set to cost $100 million, and will replace those outdoor beach volleyball courts.
Blatstein is additionally building an outdoor beer garden and Boardwalk extension to a large sundeck in the sand dunes. Those plans are estimated to cost $29 million.
Blatstein is certainly bullish on Atlantic City’s future.
“Atlantic City’s best days are ahead,” he opined recently. “I read the press sometimes and I scratch my head to the point that I get a bald spot on it. I don’t think they realize Atlantic City’s potential.”
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