Pop culture helps bring Showboat Atlantic City back to life with massive arcade, sports bar and Hollywood zombie film shoot

One would assume the discontinuation of casino gaming, followed a few years later by a worldwide pandemic-caused shutdown of the global economy, would have meant final call for the iconic Showboat Hotel and Resort in Atlantic City. But don’t tell that to Philadelphia developer Bart Blatstein, who purchased the resort in 2016 from Stockton University. He and his team at Tower Investments are leading what can only be called a remarkable comeback for the property, which first opened in March of 1987 as a 60,000-square-foot casino, luxury hotel, and 60-lane bowling alley.

Unfortunately, the bowling alley closed years ago, but entertainment and pop culture are leading the Showboat’s Phoenix-like resurrection. The hotel currently hosts one of the largest Horror Conventions in the State, the New Jersey Horror Con and Film Festival. It was also one of the New Jersey shooting locations for Zack Snyder’s Army of the Dead – which drops on Netflix tomorrow. But what will bring a more permanent fanboy and sports presence to the Showboat is the just-opened Lucky Snake Arcade and Sports Bar, a $7 million attraction that includes New Jersey’s largest gaming arcade at 100,000-square feet, a 25,000 square foot sports bar complete with 20-by-20 foot boxing ring, e-sports gaming area, live entertainment venues and a speakeasy.

Blatstein, along with Atlantic City Mayor Marty Small Sr., cut the ribbon at the grand opening for Lucky Snake at Showboat last Friday, May 14th, allowing select fans to get a sneak peak of the complex, which one might call a gamer and sports fan’s paradise.

Just some of the featured attractions at Lucky Snake include:

  • Spirit Bar, a 25,000-square-foot sports bar with massive, wall-to-wall video monitors.
  • Additional lounges inside a 100,000-square feet arcade, including Riviera Bar and The 12 Bar.
  • Being billed as the largest sports bar and arcade on the East Coast.
  • Dozens of retro gaming cabinets, such as classic Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Street Fighter, Atari Star Wars, BattleZone, Centipede, Bally Midway’s Spyhunter, Star Castle, Pac Man and many more.
  • Massive video screen versions of the classic arcade games Connect Four, Pac Man and Space Invaders.
  • Numerous currently popular arcade games such as House of the Dead, Jurassic Park, a 4k shooter version of Halo: Fireteam Raven, and DCU Injustice, an interesting concept game that spits out a collectible trading card with every play.
  • Multiple virtual reality-based games including Ultra Moto, which is played while seated on a motorcycle, as well as an entire area devoted to e-sports gaming.
  • Traditional boardwalk favorites such as skee-ball and crane games, including the world’s largest crane game, which rises from floor to ceiling.
  • For more traditional sports fans, there’s basketball hoop games, air hockey, a lineup of pinball machines.
  • A full blacklight-lit miniature golf area, along with some duckpin bowling lanes thrown in for good measure.

Tower Investments president Brandon Dixon said during a recent interview with Atlantic City Weekly that the company views the arcade as a benchmark for what is to come in the future with projects such as a planned waterpark concept and outdoor concert venue called The Dome, which will be located next to the hotel. According to that article, they are also planning a beer garden and sun deck, all of which Tower hopes to have open by summer 2022. All of which is planned to continue Atlantic City’s transition from strictly a gambling mecca to entertainment destination. From the looks of things, they’re off to a fine start.

Regarding the other current activities at the Showboat: Army of the Dead makes it’s streaming premiere tomorrow, May 21st, on Netflix. The zombie heist film received a limited theatrical release last weekend and marks Zack Snyder’s return to the undead genre after his 2004 cult favorite remake of George Romero’s Dawn of the Dead. Army of the Dead stars Dave Bautista (Guardians of the Galaxy), who top lines the zombie-crushing ensemble cast, along with Omari Hardwick (Power), Tig Notaro (Star Trek: Discovery), Ella Purnell (Sweetbitter), Nora Arnezeder (Mozart in the Jungle), Hiroyuki Sanada (Mortal Kombat), Huma Qureshi (Gangs of Wasseypur), Samantha Win (Wonder Woman, Justice League), Michael Cassidy (Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice), Richard Cetrone (Man of Steel), Garret Dillahunt (Fear the Walking Dead), Matthias Schweighöfer (Valkyrie), Ana de la Reguera (Goliath), Raúl Castillo (Knives Out) and Theo Rossi (Luke Cage).

The New Jersey Horror Con and Film Festival‘s next edition takes place in early September 2021 at the Showboat. Guests will include Danielle Harris (Halloween 4 and 5, Urban Legend), Kerri Green (The Goonies), Tony Moran (Halloween), David Howard Thornton (Terrifier, Terrifier 2), Sean Patrick Flanery (Boondock Saints, Saw), Jill Whitlow (Night of the Creeps, Weird Science), and many others.

Below is a gallery of photos I shot when I stumbled upon the Lucky Snake while in town for the weekend with family. It felt great to be seriously shooting again.