They call Atlantic City the “Entertainment Capital of the Jersey Shore”. Atlantic City is best known for its casinos. With 9 options to choose from, it’s one of the biggest gambling destinations in the world, but gambling isn’t all these places have to offer.
Living in Philadelphia, you’re only about an hour away from Atlantic City, so when we lived in the area, we would go down there often for shows, a good meal, a little gambling, or just to sit on the beach. Not all the casinos in Atlantic City are equal, so we came up with a ranking system so you’ll know where to go if it’s your first time visiting, or you haven’t been to the city in a while.
* A big thank you to our friend Richard Bintliff for helping us with this article.
How We Ranked
We ranked the casinos based on the following parameters:
- Casino floor
- Hotel rooms
Overall Rating: 4.75/5
Borgata feels most like a Vegas casino. The atmosphere is more high end, but it’s not overly stuffy. Even during the week, Borgata is energetic and lively. It seems like there is always something going on here. The one con would be that it tends to get smoky inside, especially on a busy night.
Casino Floor: 5/5
Borgata casino is definitely one of the best in Atlantic City. It has the most amount of slot machines and a great poker room. The World Series of Poker has been here several times and they always have tournaments going on.
They recently added a 100 seat sportsbook where gamblers can bet on live games, athletic events, and horse racing. The inside is completely non-smoking and features a bar and restaurant where you can relax and watch the game.
Like all casinos in Atlantic City, you get free drinks while gambling. The drink service is quick, the cocktail waitresses and friendly, and they serve your drinks in an actual glass, not a plastic cup.
Borgata offers great comps through its M-Life Rewards program. It’s also the only casino in Atlantic City where you can redeem My Vegas Slot Points. If you aren’t familiar, this is a slot game you can play through Facebook that gives you rewards for real casinos.
The service at Borgata is top-notch. The lines can get long on the weekends, but they have plenty of staff to accommodate, so they move quickly.
The staff is friendly and will go out of their way to accommodate you. The last time we stayed there, we had a minor issue with one of our comps, so we went to their front desk to ask about it. Not only did they fix the issue, but they gave us an additional $25 comp on top of that for our trouble.
Borgata has something for everyone, from high-end restaurants to small cafes. You can get a fantastic steak at Old Homestead Steakhouse or grab a quick bite in their food court.
They have the most amount of celebrity chef restaurants, including choices from Bobby Flay, Wolfgang Puck and Michael Simon. Their buffet is the best in Atlantic City. High quality with tons of different options.
The food is a bit overpriced, but that’s expected in a casino. The hours are a bit inconsistent as well. A lot of restaurants aren’t open every day during the week, so you’ll have to check the hours beforehand.
Borgata gets a 5/5 for entertainment. They have a great comedy club that features headlining comedians. They also have a fantastic concert venue where some of the biggest musicians in the world have played.
Premier Nightclub offers a great nightlife experience, with some of the world’s top DJ’s playing here. If a band is more your style, you can catch free live entertainment at The Gypsy Bar.
Hotel Rooms 4.5/5
Borgata offers modern, comfortable rooms that have been renovated within the past few years. The floor to ceiling windows gives you great views of the bay or the city. Their bathrooms are huge and feature marble sit down showers.
Your stay gives you free to the indoor and outdoor pools at Borgata as well as The Water Club pools, which feature swim-up bars and are for guests 21 and older only. The only downside to staying at Borgata is that it’s located on the marina, so you don’t have direct access to the beach or boardwalk.
Overall Rating: 4.3/5
Golden Nugget has an atmosphere that reminds us of downtown Las Vegas. It’s more low key and laid back than some of the other casinos and definitely caters to an older crowd. It’s smaller and a bit darker than other places, but it’s still a fun atmosphere with lots going on.
The casino is one of the smallest in Atlantic City. They have a good variety of slots and video poker machines that pay fairly. Their poker room here is smaller but great. They don’t have a sportsbook in the casino, however, they do offer an online option.
Golden Nugget offers decent comps. They are the only casino to always have free parking and if you get a rewards card, the comps can be used at both the Atlantic City and Las Vegas location.
The cocktail service is top-notch here. They have great bartenders and cocktail waitresses and you won’t have to wait long for a drink.
Many of the staff members came over from the former Trump Marina, so they are experienced with customer service. Everyone is accommodating and friendly, from the staff at the concierge check in to the servers at the restaurants. Our only complaint is that on busy nights they could use more staff, as the lines tend to get a bit long.
The restaurants in Golden Nugget are our favorite. For a smaller casino, they have an excellent variety, including a solid buffet, 24-hour cafe and a great steakhouse.
The Chart House is a great seafood restaurant with a beautiful view of the day. If you’re looking for a solid burger, head to Bill’s Burger Bar. Try the fat cat, you won’t be disappointed.
You can find good food options at Golden Nugget 24 hours a day and almost all of the restaurants have excellent happy hours. If you want further discounts, sign up for the Landry’s Select Rewards Card. It’s a $25 fee, but you immediately get a $25 reward for signing up. You can use the card at many of the restaurants in the Golden Nugget and at over 600 locations across the United States. You even get a $25 reward on your birthday.
The entertainment at Golden Nugget is geared toward more of an older crowd. While they don’t get some of the popular acts of today, they still get some solid performers. There are no big nightclubs here, but they do have great live entertainment throughout the casino, including some solid cover bands.
Golden Nugget hosts a lot of outdoor festivals and events. The Bayfront Bar and Deck are great places to hang out in the summer months. You get great views of the marina during the day and at night, more live entertainment.
Hotel Rooms: 4/5
The hotel rooms at Golden Nugget are nice and clean. Although they are on the smaller side, they are comfortable and modern. One complaint is that they are a bit noisy, so you tend to hear your neighbors. Also, since this hotel is on the marina, you have no direct access to the beach or boardwalk.
Overall Rating: 4.25/5
The Hard Rock is Atlantic City’s newest casino. Formally the Trump Taj Mahal, they did a great job of renovating a formerly tacky, very outdated building. The decor is very modern and there is lots of cool music memorabilia throughout the place.
Our one complaint is that you feel a bit overstimulated in here. The casino is very loud and bright, which made us not want to stay for very long.
The casino is great. Everything is brand new and they have a good variety of machines. They even let you order cocktails directly from the slot machines. They have a great sportsbook but lose half a point because they don’t have a poker room.
The comps here are decent but not as good as some of the other Atlantic City casinos. Through their Wild Card Rewards program, you can earn comp dollars for free slot and table game play and $10 parking. They also have lots of free gift promotions and giveaways depending on when you visit.
The service at Hard Rock is good, but not great. The people are friendly, but they don’t go above and beyond. The lines tend to be long, especially during busy times, but overall, the staff is accommodating.
They have a decent variety of restaurants at the Hard Rock, including celebrity favorite The Sugar Factory and Atlantic City staples like The White House Sub Shop. The hours are fairly consistent, so you can find something to eat no matter what time of day.
Council Oak and Robert’s Steakhouse are the clear standout restaurants here. The Hard Rock Cafe is very large and offers live entertainment, but the food and service aren’t that great. They have a smaller buffet, with good quality food. They also have a decent food court if you want a quick bite.
Hard Rock is another Atlantic City casino with great entertainment. The Howie Mandel comedy club features great headlining comedians. They have a huge concert venue with world-class acts and free live entertainment at the Hard Rock Cafe.
If you’re looking for a nightclub atmosphere, check out Daer nightclub or Scores Gentlemen’s Club. In the summer, you can relax with a drink at their boardwalk beach bar. The Hard Rock offers no shortage of great entertainment and places to have fun.
Hotel Rooms: 4/5
The hotel rooms at Hard Rock are newly renovated, but not as luxurious or as comfortable as some of the other casinos. The beds weren’t very comfortable, the bathrooms were nothing special and the furniture looked like it was from Ikea. The location is great; you’re in the middle of the Atlantic City boardwalk with direct beach access, but you can get better rooms in Atlantic City.
Overall Rating: 4/5
The atmosphere at Harrah’s is very pretty and Vegas-esque. The front lobby is very nice and features a pretty aquarium. The casino is modern and feels very roomy. The vibe is fun and lively. One complaint is that it tends to be pretty smoky in the building, even if you try and avoid the smoking areas.
Harrah’s is smaller than some of the other Atlantic City casinos. They have a good variety of slot machines, including some older classics, but fewer table games and a small poker room.
You can order drinks from your machine but are required to play max bet to get a free drink if you play video poker. The slots do feel a bit looser than some of the other casinos though, so you can play for longer with less money.
One big plus for Harrah’s is their comps, especially for hotel rooms. Sign up for a players card and you’ll get offered discounted or free rooms without having to play much.
Everyone that works at Harrah’s is very nice and accommodating. During busy times, the front desk can be a bit chaotic, but they really try their best to please you and make sure you’re having a good time.
Harrah’s has limited restaurant options, but the choices are good. One of our favorites is McCormick and Smick’s, where you can get a cheeseburger, fries, and beer for less than $10 every day during happy hour ( a steal in Atlantic City). They also have a Gordon Ramsay steak, Steve Martaranos, and Guy Fieri restaurant.
Coastal Craft is great for breakfast and AC Burger offers good sandwiches that won’t break the bank. They also have a good buffet with really nice decor.
One big complaint is the restaurants don’t have great hours and there are no real late-night dining options. If you want to grab a late-night bite to eat, you’ll have a hard time here.
The best option for entertainment at Harrah’s is their pool club. It’s a really nice place that features some big name DJs. There is no concert or event hall and no comedy club, so options for entertainment are limited. They do have a Viking Cooking School, one of the most unique options for entertainment in Atlantic City.
Hotel Rooms: 4/5
The Coastal and Bayview towers are newly renovated and where you would want to stay. The waterfront tower is nice but due for renovations.
Since Harrah’s is on the marina, there is no direct beach or boardwalk access, but they make up for it with their pool. When they aren’t having an event, it’s free to hotel guests and stays open until midnight on Sundays.
Overall Rating: 3.8/5
Ocean is unlike any other casino in Atlantic City. It is very open and spacious, with floor to ceiling windows that give you great views of the Atlantic. There are fish tanks throughout the casino and the entire place smells like vanilla, which definitely helps with the smoke. They also have a lot of open air deck areas with fire pits where you can relax and look at the ocean.
Our one complaint is that because it’s so spacious and open, it doesn’t feel like a lot is going on here. Unlike some of the other casinos that are very lively and filled with people, Ocean can feel a bit dead and boring at times. You also have to walk long distances to get anywhere.
Ocean has a good variety of slot machines, but they seemed to be a bit tighter than the other casinos. There is no organized poker room, but they do have a really nice sportsbook in the casino.
The drink service isn’t great. It took us a while to find a cocktail waitress and a long time to get a drink. The comps here are some of the best, but they make it difficult to get them. You’ll need a player’s card, which you’ll have to stand in a long line to get. Once you get the card, you’ll have to scan it on one of their kiosks to select what comps you want (again, long lines for these). Then, depending on the comp, you may have to stand in another long line to get your item. The process is very confusing and we wish they would do something to make it more streamlined.
While Ocean is a really nice looking casino, the customer service here is lacking. As we’ve mentioned, the lines here are long and it’s really hard to get any information. The staff makes you feel like a number and seem overworked and bothered by you.
The lack of customer service here is a shame because if it was better, we would enjoy coming to this casino a lot more. To give them credit, when we reached out to customer relations after a particularly bad experience, they did reach out and attempt to rectify the problem, but with plenty of other casinos to choose from in Atlantic City, we prefer to go to places where we are treated better.
There are some good restaurants in Ocean, but the hours are really inconsistent, so often when you’re there, nothing is open. There is no buffet here and the food court is pretty sad, but they do have some good celebrity restaurants including Amada, Distrito, and Walburgers.
Out of all the restaurants here, Villain and Saint is our favorite. You can get a lobster for $19.95 and they have some of the best Brussels sprouts you’ll ever have. Distrito has a really great happy hour, with $2 tacos and $2 margaritas every day from 1 pm – 5 pm. You will need to sign up for an Ocean players card to get that deal, but it’s worth it as the food is delicious.
The entertainment at Ocean is pretty solid. They have a large event venue that gets big music and comedy acts frequently. Their nightclub, HQ2, was ranked the best in Atlantic City for 2019 and frequently attracts the world’s best DJs. In the summer, HQ2 is a beach club by day. They also have a Top Golf inside, which is very unique for a casino.
Hotel Rooms: 5/5
Ocean has our favorite hotel room in Atlantic City. You are located right on the boardwalk, so you get beautiful views of the Atlantic and the AC Boardwalk. The rooms are very clean, modern and luxurious. The beds are super comfortable and the bathroom makes you feel like you’re in a spa. It’s the best place to stay in Atlantic City.
Overall Rating: 3.41/5
You can tell Tropicana is an older casino because it’s not as spacious as some of the newer ones. It’s very crowded and smoky inside and the layout can be very confusing.
The Quarter area with shops and restaurants is really nice. You’ll definitely want to check that out when you come here. It’s our favorite part of Tropicana.
Renovations to the casino have been made rather recently, but it still feels pretty cramped inside. They have a decent poker room and okay comps, but no sportsbook. Drink service is lousy here, so you’ll be waiting a long time.
The service at Tropicana is not great. The staff is rude and in general, it seems like they aren’t happy to be there. They are not very accommodating, so don’t expect anything above and beyond the bare minimum.
They also seem to be pretty lax on security in this place. You might see homeless people asking for change or really drunk people that are getting out of hand. There was even a meth lab in one of the hotel rooms once.
Tropicana has close to 30 restaurants. You can find everything from gourmet to snacks here. Our favorites are their buffet, Italian and sushi restaurants. Tropicana offers plenty of options for everyone’s tastes. One minor complaint is that the restaurants can get a bit crowded, so you can wait a while to get a table.
Tropicana is another casino with solid entertainment. They have multiple nightclubs and lounges and a comedy club that features some big names. Although they don’t have a big concert venue, the live entertainment inside the lounges is really good. They also have a really great Christmas light show during the holiday season.
Hotel Rooms: 3/5
While some of the rooms in Tropicana have been renovated, they still have a long way to go. The nicest rooms are in the Havana, North and South Towers. There is definitely a frat like atmosphere here, especially in the West Tower. The rooms can be noisy and will sometimes smell like pot. The cleanliness here is hit or miss.
Overall Rating: 2.75/5
Resorts is pretty old and outdated. Inside is noisy, cramped and smoky. The nicest area of this casino is Margaritaville and the outdoor bar, but other than that, the atmosphere here isn’t very lively.
Resorts has a decent variety of slots and table games. There is no poker room, but they do have a Draft Kings Sportsbook, which is one of the best in Atlantic City. The drink service is okay, but the comps here are horrible and not worth the trouble. There are better places to go in Atlantic City.
The service at Resorts is okay, but nothing special. People are generally friendly, but we wouldn’t say they go out of their way for you. There are no long waits and you can generally get what you want, but this casino is nothing fancy, so don’t expect anything exceptional.
There isn’t much to choose from when it comes to restaurants here. Capriccio is a great Italian restaurant and Gallagher’s Burger bar has good food and a good happy hour. Margaritaville and Landshark offer a fun beach bar vibe, but when it comes to food, they are your typical chain restaurants. The higher-end places are a bit pricey and there aren’t a lot of late-night options here, but what they do have is good.
There really isn’t a whole lot going on at Resorts. They occasionally get some C list acts, but there is no nightclub, pool or day club here. Landshark is a nice beach bar in the summer, but there really isn’t much else here for entertainment.
Out of the 9 casinos, Resorts is the worst when it comes to hotel rooms. While some rooms have been renovated, they have a long way to go. Cleanliness here is questionable and the pool is not good. We recommend staying elsewhere.
Bally’s/ Wild Wild West
Overall Rating: 2.75/5
There really isn’t much of an atmosphere at Bally’s and Wild Wild West. The Wild WildWest end is definitely more lively if you’re into a frat boy type crowd. The Bally’s end is pretty vanilla, with not a lot going on. The Bally’s side definitely caters to an older crowd, but there isn’t a whole lot going on to make you want to stay.
For a casino, Bally’s and Wild Wild West can get pretty boring. They have a good variety of slot machines and an okay poker room and sportsbook, but that’s really all that’s going on here. The drink service is good, but the comps aren’t great. There are definitely more fun and lively places to visit in Atlantic City.
What Bally’s lacks in atmosphere, they make up with customer service. The people working here are very nice. It’s the only casino in Atlantic City where someone has greeted us when we walked in. Everyone from the front desk staff to restaurant servers is great here. Our only complaint is that they need more staff. Sometimes it may take a while to get service here, but you’re always greeted with a smile.
There aren’t too many options for restaurants here. Buca di Beppo is their Italian option and they have a small food court with two local options, Walt’s Primo Pizza and Sack o Subs, both good casual options.
For celebrity restaurants, they have a Guy Fiero BBQ, but the annoying announcements they constantly play on the boardwalk about this place will make you not want to visit.
Bally’s really lacks entertainment options. They have a pretty nice beach bar in the summer, but no comedy or nightclubs. There is live entertainment at Wild West, including a mechanical bull, which can be quite amusing if you’re into watching drunk people.
Hotel Rooms: 2/5
Bally’s hotel is definitely in need of renovations. While the hotel rooms are clean, they are very outdated and stuck in the 80s. They have double beds in the rooms when the standard in other hotels is queen size.
Another big complaint is that they charge hotel guests a $5 fee to use their pool. That is on top of the resort fee they charge to stay there.
What once was a really nice casino, Caesars has turned into a place that is in desperate need of a renovation. There is lots of empty space here and the vibe is a bit dark and depressing. The lobby and building where the Pier Shops are located are nice, but almost all of the spaces inside are unoccupied. There isn’t much going on here.
Inside the casino smells like a strong carpet cleaner, to the point where you get a headache. They charge you a premium to park in their garage, yet it’s very dirty and smells horrible. For the amount they charge you, you’d expect something better.
The casino is a shell of what it used to be in the 80s and 90s as they’ve downsized quite a bit. The slot machines are old, run-down and tight. We noticed that many of them were out of order or barely working. They have no sportsbook or poker room here.
One perk is that you can order your drinks from the machines. On the downside, when we went to the bar to play video poker, the bartender told us we had to play a max bet in order to get our drinks comped. Overall, the comps here are pretty bad and not worth the trouble.
The service here is good. The people are friendly and accommodating, but we wouldn’t say they go above and beyond. They don’t have a ton of staff members though, so if it’s busy, you do wait a bit longer than at other casinos.
Caesars doesn’t have a ton of choices for restaurants, but what they do have is good. Buddakan, Continental (located in the Pier) and Gordon Ramsay Pub are clear favorites, but they are all on the expensive side. The buffet is a good value, but there really isn’t a lot of good options for cheaper meals and they don’t really have any late-night dining options.
Caesars seriously lacks entertainment. Other than the occasional headliner in their theater, there isn’t much going on. They offer zero live entertainment and no night or day clubs. The rooftop pool is small and not worth the money they charge you to use it. You’re better off going to the beach.
Hotel Rooms: 3.5/5
The rooms at Caesars are decent. They are clean and fairly spacious, but some are showing their age. The preferred towers to stay in are Centurion and Ocean as they have been renovated fairly recently. Hopefully a renovation for the other towers is down the road.
A big plus to staying here is that you’re right on the beach and boardwalk. We mentioned their rooftop pool above, which is free to use if you’re a Diamond status guest or Seven Stars cardholder, otherwise, you pay $5 per person during the week and $10 on the weekends.
We are unsure how you get to that status level, but as we said before, you’re better off just heading to the beach.
Bonus: The Irish Pub and Inn
We’re adding the Irish Pub to the list as a bonus because it’s our favorite place in Atlantic City. Although it’s technically not a casino, you will definitely want to visit this place when you’re in AC.
A former speakeasy, the Irish Pub offers great friendly service and cheap drinks. It’s open 24 hours a day and no matter what time you go, there are people inside. We’ve had many great times here.
The owner is one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet. She’s very involved in the Atlantic City community and takes great pride in her establishment. During the Christmas season, she decorates the entire place in one of the most awesome Christmas displays you will ever see. Every inch of the place is decorated.
The Irish Pub Inn is probably the only place in Atlantic City that doesn’t raise their rates in the summer. The rooms aren’t super fancy, but they are clean and have everything you would need for a comfortable stay. You’re right on the boardwalk, so you have direct access to the beach.
If you’re in Atlantic City, take a break from the casino atmosphere and check out The Irish Pub. It’s our favorite spot in Atlantic City and we know you’ll love it too.