CasinosJungle > News > Revolutionary Casino Magnate Steve Norton Passes Away 

Revolutionary Casino Magnate Steve Norton Passes Away 

Penny November 14, 2023

A businessman who was key to the growth of the gambling industry in the United States has passed away at the age of 89 following an accident at his home, his son has confirmed. Steve Norton was the first person to open a casino outside of Nevada in Atlantic City. This ushered in a new era of gambling to a country that had long grappled with the difficulty of establishing a prosperous industry in the world of casinos. His passing marks a sad day for the nation’s industry and is set to bring about a period of reflection on someone who helped build an industry from almost nothing and lay the groundwork for a billion-dollar market that now spreads from state to state and has found its place online. Though that will be the case, it is often forgotten that Norton had such an influence on the industry outside of Las Vegas.

Atlantic City

A Force of Nature Ahead of His Time in the Gambling Industry

Norton was a man who had his hand in the industry for more than 50 years and, undoubtedly, helped shape the landscape that we see today. As reported by ABC News, the casino proprietor was key to the establishment of a unified industry that was built around a framework that created oversight and regulation for a previously demonized pastime. Through his years working within the industry, he advised governmental bodies on how to approach gambling and implement legislation around it. Most importantly, he was the first person to set up a national trade association for the market, as well as working to deal with the effects of problem gambling. Because of this, he was well ahead of the time he found himself in and managed to push casinos forward. Much of the work he did at the time has shaped what continues to be done around the industry to grow and keep it in line.


On the topic of problem gambling, his son, Rob, is quoted by the Associated Press as saying “He recognized early that the industry’s biggest threat to growth was the issue of problem gaming, so he led the charge in changing the way the industry addresses the critical issue”. It’s perhaps this that is the most important part of his legacy. While the work he did to build an industry outside of the stronghold that was Las Vegas is obviously important to those businesses that were able to open in places like Atlantic City and further afield, his time dedicated to ensuring that the public health concerns around gambling where addressed is perhaps his true legacy. As we continue to grapple somewhat with the effects that betting and gaming can have if left unattended, we mustn’t lose sight of what a stalwart of the American gambling landscape worked so hard to achieve. The work done by Norton on education, support, and access to resources was groundbreaking and continues to form the baseline of how governments and legislators treat the concern to this day.


A Storied Life Full of Hard Work and Growth

Though the legacy of a man so fundamental to one industry is always going to focus very intensely on the achievements within that time, it’s key to not lose sight of the person as a whole. He began his working life in the hotel and leisure world in the Bahamas and this gave him the experience he needed to revolutionize the resort landscape in the US. He went on then to work with Las Vegas casinos, before noticing that there was a gap in the market outside of Sin City. Having earmarked New Jersey as being fertile ground for gaming, he decided to develop that first casino resort outside of the famous Strip. The opening of the first Atlantic City casino in the late 70s was a smash hit and set the tone for the years to come and completely changed the outside view of the city.


Norton’s passing is a sad day for an industry that owes so much to his dedication and desire to build something from nothing. The foundations that were laid in 1970s Atlantic City are what the rest of the country’s current market is built on. More than that, his advice to and work with a number of governments worldwide has colored a global business that goes from strength to strength. It’s clear then that the world of casinos and gaming would not be the same without him. His name should never be forgotten by anyone involved in the game.

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