The Resorts Casino Hotel is an establishment that opened on May 26, 1978, in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Besides being the first casino hotel in Atlantic City, the Resorts Casino Hotel is also considered as the first legal casino outside of Nevada, where the gambling capital of the United States, Las Vegas, is located. The current owner of the Resorts Casino Hotel is DGMB Casino, a gambling company once owned by deceased businessman Dennis Gomes. The purchase occurred in December 2010, during a time when the hotel-casino was struggling financially due to the predicted rise of online gambling in the modern era by Syndicate News, as well as the stiff competition between land-based casinos in Atlantic City.
Even though the Resorts Casino Hotel was founded in 1978, the building where it is located is actually a lot older. To learn about the story behind the building and the land where it is erected, let us take a dive into the history of the Resorts Casino Hotel.
The Chalfonte House
The building that we currently know today as Resorts Casino Hotel was built in 1868 as the Chalfonte House, a hotel owned by Elisha and Elizabeth Roberts. The two bought the land, which is located at North Carolina Avenue and Pacific Avenue, from a man named John DaCosta for the price of $6,500.
After buying the land, the construction of the hotel started during the winter, and according to records, Elisha and Elizabeth Roberts spent $21,000 for materials and labor for the hotel. The Chalfonte Hotel was named after Chalfont St Giles, a village and civil parish in England that is located in the southeastern region of Buckinghamshire. The original hotel could only accommodate 140 guests, but in 1889, the building was expanded and was moved towards the ocean so that guests would have a better view of the Atlantic Ocean.
The Haddon House and Henry Leeds
Another hotel, called the Haddon House, was built across the street where the Chalfonte House is located, and this location is where the Resorts Casino Hotel is currently erected. The Haddon House was opened by owners Samual and Susanna Hunt in 1869, just one year after the opening of the Chalfonte House. The Hunts named the Haddon House after the borough in New Jersey called Haddonfield. In 1890, the owners sold the hotel to the Leeds & Lippincott company, who would rebuild the Haddon House to a larger hotel and renamed it Haddon Hall. Leeds & Lippincott reportedly spent $200,000 for the rebuild.
The owner and founder of Leeds & Lippincott, Henry Leeds, then bought the Chalfonte House in 1900 and constructed a larger and more modern hotel called the Chalfonte Hotel on the site. The company spent $1 million for the construction of the Chalfonte Hotel, which is considered the first “skyscraper” in Atlantic City. The Chalfonte Hotel officially opened on July 2, 1904.
The Haddon Hall
The Haddon Hall hotel was further expanded into a larger building during the 1920s. The 11-story wing that faces the Boardwalk of Atlantic City was the first expansion built for the hotel, while the 15-story center and the 11-story rear wings were constructed at the end of the decade.
After the construction of the expansions, Leeds & Lippincott connected the Haddon Hall to the Chalfonte Hotel via a skyway. This skyway can still be seen at the Resort Casino Hotel in 2020. Because the Chalfonte Hotel and the Haddon Hall are connected, Leeds & Lippincott named the large hotel as the Chalfonte-Haddon Hall. The said hotel was Atlantic City’s largest hotel from the 1930s to the 1940s.
The Hotel During World War II
The Chalfonte-Haddon Hall was leased by the US Military in the early 1940s in order to transform the building into one of the locations for the Army Air Force Basic Training Center No.7, which also occupies forty-six other hotels in Atlantic City.
These hotels were collectively named “Camp Boardwalk,” with the Chalfonte-Haddon Hall, as well as the nearby Traymore Hotel, serving as the building for the England General Hospital. This hospital opened on April 28, 1944, and the last patient that it served was released in June 1946. On August 1, 1946, the Chalfontte-Haddon Hall was returned to Leeds & Lippincott.
The Resorts Casino Hotel
Resorts International, a former paint company that turned its focus on building hotels and casinos in 1968, became interested in owning a hotel-casino in Atlantic City, which was considered an attractive location for business in the early 70s. After owning the first legally owned casino in Atlantic City, Resorts International paved the way for other companies to build their own casinos in the beautiful location.
Before they founded Resorts Casino Hotel, the company first bought a 55-acre land on the Atlantic City Baywalk while also buying the Leeds & Lippincott Company in August 1976. After the acquisition of Leeds & Lippincott, which is reported to have been bought for $2.489 million, Resorts International was forced to reduce the 1,000 rooms that are at the Chalfonte-Haddon Hall to only 566 rooms in order to follow the city’s room capacity requirements.
The bigger Haddon Hall was then converted to several establishments, including a casino, a showroom, some shops, and a few restaurants. By using an already existing hotel in the form of the Haddon Hall, Resorts International will be able to open its doors to the public at a much earlier date than their rival companies, who are also building and renovating hotels in Atlantic City.
Despite the encouragement of the Atlantic City government for hotel-casino companies to build new buildings, Resorts International still decided to use the existing Haddon Hall as their casino. As the government believes that the Haddon Hall, even though it is turned into a casino, would still bring tourists to their city, they let Resorts International use the historical building instead of building a new one.
The Haddon Hall was renamed The Palace Hotel in May 1977, but on July 1, 1977, Resorts International renamed the building once again to Resorts International Hotel. As for the Chalfonte Hotel, it remained vacant until 1980, when it was demolished to allow Resorts International to build a parking lot for the guests.
Business tycoon Donald Trump bought a controlling block of the Resorts International stock in 1987 in order to take over the Resort Casino Hotel in the near future. However, Trump did not fully take over the ownership of the hotel-casino, and he was only able to reach an agreement with another businessman Merv Griffin to divide the company’s holdings. Both Trump and Griffin sold their shares of Resorts International in the 1990s, leaving the Resort Casino Hotel to struggle in the rapidly growing casino industry during the 2000s. The casino was then saved by DGMB Casinos, a company that focuses on land-based casinos and online gambling games, in December 2010, just a few weeks before Resorts Casino Hotel announces that they are shutting down.