Borgata Casino in Atlantic City, N.J.
“Thou shalt not place Bibles in our casino hotel rooms.”
Such is the commandment from the flashy, new Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa, home of the Borgata Babe cocktail waitress and shower-stall-for-two.
The Press of Atlantic City reports the $1.1 billion resort opening this summer is breaking ranks with all other casinos, and is refusing to allow the Gideons to place a Bible in any of its 2,002 hotel rooms.
“What we’ve found is there’s such a diversity of gaming customers that visit Atlantic City, by putting one generic publication in there you’re not fulfilling the needs of everybody,” Borgata spokesman Michael Facenda told the paper.
“You could do the Mormon Bible, the Quran, the Old Testament, the New Testament, the Greek New Testament. … Where we ended up is we’re not going to put anything in there,” he said.
There’s no talk of preventing any casino patron from bringing his or her own Bible – the hotel is just not letting the Gideons place its free Scripture in the rooms. That would be a first in the city’s 25-year history of gambling, according to Jim Werner, Bible scriptures secretary for the Gideons’ Atlantic County chapter.
“A lot of times the casino hotels have taken their time to make a decision – sometimes a month or two. It seems like they don’t have a policy because of the so-called controversial nature of the matter,” he told the Press.
But Werner has faith that Borgata eventually will see the light.
“I’m sure it’s lower on the list of decision-making. I’m sure they have more important things on their mind than ‘shall we put Bibles in the rooms?’” he said.
Gideons Bibles permeate most hotels
Based in Nashville, Gideons International distributes over a million Bibles each week in 176 countries and 80 languages. Most are found in hotels and motels, overnight health-care facilities, schools, prisons and places with military and public-safety personnel.
“The small percentage that we talked to who do have an interest in having [a Bible] available brought their own anyway,” Facenda said.
Werner says having words of comfort in each room could be a life-saver during a personal crisis, such as catastrophic gambling loss.
“For the casino, it’s good for them if it saves one or two lives a year,” Werner said. “If nothing else, it’s a lot less negative publicity for them and it doesn’t cost them a nickel because they’re free.
“All they have to do is put in their room something that’s an attractive book. It’s got a nice cover. It looks classy.”
Robert L. Boughner
Borgata, which means “little village” in Italian, is the first new casino to open in Atlantic City in 13 years.
Its chief executive, Robert L. Boughner, has been publicly critical of competing resorts, complaining they smell due to inadequate ventilation.
“Many of the other places are just reincarnated old hotels,” Boughner told the New York Times, “and they just don’t have the technology and the amenities to keep up with us.”