What Happened to the Penthouse Boardwalk Hotel and Casino?
Despite never actually opening its doors – or perhaps because of it – the Penthouse Boardwalk Hotel and Casino is one of Atlantic City’s most famous gaming resorts.
So, if you were planning a trip to Atlantic City and had included the Penthouse Boardwalk Hotel and Casino on your itinerary, you’ll need to find another AC casino – see our list of alternatives at the end of this article.
But first, in lieu of the usual breakdown of what this casino and hotel has to offer – here’s an overview of the colourful history of the resort that was never to be.
1970s… Penthouse Goes into the Casino Business
In 1978 – in continuation of a thus-far fairly unsuccessful foray into the casino industry – Penthouse International Inc., owner of the infamous pornographic Penthouse Magazine, began construction on the Penthouse Boardwalk Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City, NV. The purchase of the property was made by Penthouse subsidiary, Boardwalk Properties Inc.
At the time, Penthouse owner, Bob Guccione promised that the Penthouse Boardwalk Hotel and Casino would acquire its gaming licence within six months and would open within a year.
1980s… Construction Grinds to a Halt
History would prove Guccione wrong, however, with construction of the Penthouse Boardwalk Hotel and Casino grinding to a halt in 1980 due to a combination of financial difficulties, legal scandals surrounding Guccione and Penthouse, and gaming licence issues.
One issue – or rather, person – in particular, became a major thorn in Guccione’s side. Despite repeated attempts to buy up the entire block surrounding the Penthouse Boardwalk Hotel and Casino property, he was unable to acquire one single plot. On this plot stood the home of Mrs Vera Coking. Coking became something of a folk hero as she refused to sell her home for decades, even as ownership of the Penthouse Boardwalk Hotel and Casino property changed hands over the years.
This forced Guccione to construct the Penthouse Boardwalk Hotel and Casino on either side of the Coking residence and connect the two parts via a bizarre bridge overhead.
1990s… Trump Takes Over
In 1993, billionaire business magnate – and now US presidential candidate – Donald Trump purchased the Penthouse Boardwalk Hotel and Casino property, converting part of it into the Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino and demolishing what remained of the unfinished building.
Notably, aforementioned folk heroine, Vera Coking, also refused to sell to sell to Trump – even when he reportedly offered her over US$ 1 million and attempted to force her out with an imminent domain claim.
2010s… Trump Throws in the Towel
Unfortunately, Trump Entertainment Resorts was almost as plagued by failure as Penthouse’s attempted casino venture and the Penthouse Boardwalk Hotel and Casino was ultimately forced to close in 2014.
Today… What’s Left of the Penthouse Boardwalk Hotel and Casino?
The Trump Plaza still stands on the property originally intended for the Penthouse Boardwalk Hotel and Casino, although a court ruling will prevent the venue from operating as a casino again for another 10 years.
Vera Coking’s house was sold for just US$ 583 000 in July 2014 and was demolished later that same year.
Atlantic City Casinos that Actually Exist
Although, in 2016, there is no operational casino on the Penthouse Boardwalk Hotel and Casino block, there are several others to visit just across, up, or down Atlantic City’s Boardwalk Avenue. These include Atlantic Palace, The Chelsea, The Madison, Courtyard by Marriott, Flagship Resort Atlantic City, and Wyndham Skyline Tower.