New Jersey Issues Emergency Order To ‘Prevent Fraudulent Claims’ Of Playboy Casino Chip Redemption

The former Playboy Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City has been dormant for close to 40 years now. Recently, however, state regulators put the inactive casino back on the map when it took action to put a stop to a longstanding practice- cashing in the former casino’s expired chips.

Director of the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement, David Rebuck, issued an emergency order to stop the redemption of any cheques from the defunct casino. Since the 1980s, the New Jersey Department of the Treasury has been administering a fund dedicated to honoring casino chips from the short-lived Playboy casino.

The account fund was originally funded through a deposit of $875,000 made in 1989 by Elsinore, a part owner of the Boardwalk Casino and Playboy Enterprises. The entire purpose of the fund was to allow Playboy Hotel and Casino customers to redeem their chips with the state treasury until the fund was depleted.

Surprisingly, no time limit was imposed on the period of redemption, which for years, has created a situation where chips from the defunct casino are still being redeemed even though the casino hasn’t been operational for nearly 4 decades.

It is worth noting that the fund set up was also utilized for chip redemption for expired chips from the Atlantis Casino, which also had a brief yet storied history. The Atlantis Casino and Playboy Enterprise’s infamous CEO, Hugh Hefner had significant ties to Elsinore.

Hefner was often celebrated for his visionary leadership and iconic persona that made him a prominent personality in the Playboy Casino’s early history. Unfortunately, his involvement also sparked controversies, leading to the denial of his gambling license application in 1982. This pivotal decision ultimately led to the sale of Playboy’s interest in the Atlantis City Casino.

After Hefner was denied an NJ casino gaming license, Elsinore took over the property and renamed it the Atlantis Hotel and Casino two years later. The casino went through several renovations and rebranding efforts in a bid to establish itself in the always-competitive Atlantic City gambling market.

The Atlantis originally saw some success, attracting visitors thanks to its association with Playboy, as well as the glitzy entertainment and party atmosphere it offered. However, like its predecessor, Atlantis also experienced a series of challenges. In 1989 the New Jersey Casino Control Commission failed to renew Elsinore’s casino license, which eventually led to the closure of the casino.

Similar to Playboy, the Atlantis Casino’s closure also necessitated the creation of a fund that would cater to patrons who were still in possession of expired casino chips. The fund, jointly funded by Elsinore and Playboy Enterprises, aimed to address the issue and ensure that customers could still redeem their chips, even though the casinos would be defunct.

As the years went by and the Atlantis remained closed, a secondary market for its expired chips gradually grew. These chips slowly found their way from the hands of the original holders to collectors, gamblers, and historians who sought to own a piece of the famed casino’s history.

This secondary market has kept the Playboy and Atlantis Casinos’ names alive. However, it also raised concerns regarding the possible abuse of the casino chip redemption fund. The fund, which was created to assist customers and legitimate holders of expired chips, has faced exploitation from individuals who acquired the chips through the secondary market over the years.

The Need for Regulatory Measures

The recent emergency order by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement to halt the redemption of both Playboy and Atlantis casino chips was therefore imminent. Regulators, like David Rebuck, assert that the 40-year time frame has been more than sufficient for actual Playboy gamblers to have redeemed any chips or gaming winnings owed by the two former casinos.

The decision to halt chip redemption has also sparked debates and has highlighted the need for effective and adaptive regulatory measures in the gaming industry. While the creation of the fund was noble, its perpetuity without time limits created loopholes that were exploited over time.

The Trump Regency era

Following the closure of the Atlantis, the property went through yet another major transformation when it was acquired by former US President Donald J. Trump. In June 1989, Trump acquired the property for approximately $63 million, which officially marked his entry into the Atlantic City gambling market.

Soon after the purchase, trump wasted no time rebranding it to the Trump Regency. Under his ownership, the casino was rebranded extravagantly and included touches of opulence and grandeur that became synonymous with the Trump brand. Trump’s vision was to transform the establishment into one of the most luxurious gaming establishments in the city.

As the years went on, the casino continued to evolve, eventually undergoing another major renovation in 1996. The Trump Regency was eventually renamed the Trump World’s Fair at Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino. Ultimately, the casino closed down its doors in 2014 marking the end of an era.

The journey of the property from the Playboy Hotel and Casino to the Trump Regency and later the Trump World Fair exemplifies the ever-evolving landscape of AC’s gambling landscape. Each era and ownership left a mark on the property, reflecting the dreams, as well as the challenges of the respective owners.

While the casinos that occupied this space have come and gone, their legacy is still shaping the gambling landscape in the city today. As the city continues to reinvent itself, these now-defunct casinos serve as a poignant reminder of the need for adaptability and innovation if one is to survive in the ever-evolving nature of the gaming industry.

Final Thoughts

This story of the Playboy and Atlantis Hotel and Casinos serves as a fascinating piece of Atlantic City’s history. It has also shed light on the ever-evolving landscape of regulations in the gambling space, as well as the need for adaptive measures in the event of such unforeseen circumstances. As the industry continues to evolve and innovate, the experience of the Atlantis and Playboy casino serves as a cautionary tale about the importance of crafting well throughout policies.

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