ATLANTIC CITY - What if, after seven years of plunging casino revenues and fleeing customers, Atlantic City's real problem was this: People are wearing too much clothing?
Scores, the famous New York strip club, will open a satellite establishment inside the Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort next month - the first strip club inside an Atlantic City casino in the 35 years of legal gambling here.
It will be the most audacious adult offering in an Atlantic City casino, though it's not the first: Revel has offered the Royal Jelly burlesque show since it opened; the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa hosts a burlesque show every Thursday night; and dancers in bras and panties are common on gambling floors, including at the Tropicana Casino and Resort and the Showboat Casino Hotel.
"We feel this is the third leg of the Atlantic City triangle: gambling, alcohol, and adult entertainment," said Bob Gans, the club's managing partner. "It's a natural."
Since 2006, when the first casino opened in Pennsylvania and began taking away business that had gone to New Jersey for three decades, Atlantic City has been struggling with new competition popping up all around it. Revenue has fallen from $5.2 billion that year to slightly more than $3 billion last year, and thousands of jobs have been lost in a decline that shows no signs of ending.
In addition to family-friendly attractions such as a revamped Steel Pier amusement park, the return of the Miss America pageant, and free outdoor light shows, Atlantic City has been looking for other ways to separate people and their money. The seaside resort has a century-old reputation as an adult playground, so it's somewhat surprising it took this long for strippers to make their way inside the gambling halls.
Gans is investing $25 million in the newest Scores, which will open Sept. 12 with five private VIP rooms, 11 stripper poles, and an ultra-VIP room for celebrities and high-rollers.
Cover charges will range from $10 to $30. The club's Diamond Dollars, which cash-strapped customers can charge to their credit cards, come with a steep 20 percent markup: $100 worth of club dollars costs $120.
Patrons and employees will have to behave; New Jersey laws governing casinos prohibit total nudity. In approving the club in December 2011, the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement issued a ruling that bordered on an anatomy lesson, governing in explicit detail what can be shown and what needs to stay covered. In short, dancers may strip down only to a G-string and pasties - fabric patches that cover the nipples. Lap dances are prohibited, as is any simulation of sexual activity.