Wynn Predicted Local Government Would Hurt Atlantic City?

Steve Wynn built the original Golden Nugget on the Atlantic City Boardwalk back in 1978. He sold it 10 short years later in 1987. Today, that sad structure is still sitting dormant after being operated as a Hilton and The Atlantic Club.

Why did Wynn bail on Atlantic City? The uber-successful casino titan said the reason for his exit was that local Atlantic City government at that time, was “corrupt, stupid, pathetic”. WATCH VIDEO >

Wynn wanted the New Jersey state government to take advantage of Atlantic City’s potential. They didn’t.

He urged governors of New Jersey to take control of the central planning of Atlantic City before their gaming monopoly on the east coast would come to an end.

Wynn: the local Atlantic City government is corrupt, stupid and pathetic.

Wynn doesn’t build casinos, he builds resort destinations. This is exactly what Atlantic City needs to do to become successful. It can’t just focus on gaming revenues.

Wynn: Atlantic City was never going to take advantage of its opportunity and would eventually face obsolescence, which I’m afraid is true today.”


  • Gaming is alive and well in Atlantic City, most of it OFF the Boardwalk in the ‘other Atlantic City’ known as The Marina District: Borgata, Harrahs and a new version of Golden Nugget run by Tilman Fertitta .
  • Atlantic City’s revenue had been declining since 2007.
  • Atlantic City Council has very limited jurisdiction / input / oversight on the growing tourism district.
  • Increasingly, there is now 2 versions of Atlantic City; one is small town and the other a glitzy Casino enclave. In most cases, they do not work well together. They are diametrically opposed to each other. Sadly, after 35+ years, there is no synergy between the two.



  1. What in the world was Steve Wynn talking about in this interview? The local government has done an incredible job!

    Just look at how well Glenn Straub has been treated, a person who has already spent over $100 million of his own money in the city and attests to wanting to spread around even more.

    Please, with the state knocking on the door, let’s try something new for a change. The takeover clock is ticking.

    1. The state is what is holding up Straub, The CCC won;t grant him his license nor allow him to just be a unlicensed casino landlord.

  2. The unfortunate reality is that STEVE Wynn is absolutely correct. He was the best thing that happened to ATLANTIC City, and the worst was when he left. Incompetence and selfish greed is what Atlantic City has been made of as long as I can remember. Popularity, politics, and personality along with deep rooted nepotism is the standard formula for advancement within the various governmental agencies who instead of working for the public, works for themselves. The destruction of good, professional dedicated people is a common theme, only I do not think the state does any different.

  3. You need to level all the low income housing and start building what people want in a shore community.

  4. When he left Atlantic City the last straw, as I recall, was bureaucracy at the state level, including on environmental permits, and the inability to get 24-hour gaming.. His first move in Las Vegas was the dolphins; he subsequently put up a billboard on the Expressway that said “While Atlantic City sleeps, dolphins play in the desert,” with a photo of his Las Vegas casino. His point was that it couldn’t happen in Atlantic City. Whether you think that’s a good thing or a bad thing, the subtext of dolphins playing in the desert is pretty good for marketing a casino: Anything can happen here, including dolphins in the desert and you winning at the slots.

  5. Steve Wynn left in ’87. So why did he come back in’97 if the city was so bad? Furthermore, the state did take control of “central planning” for the city with the CRDA, the SJTA, and the NJ Sports & Exposition Authority as conduits. They got the Atlantic City International Airport in EHT, Boardwalk Hall, a new Convention Center, “The Walk”, etc.

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