And Jonathan Miller, 36, of Cherry Hill, stood in line outside the Gypsy Bar (with 60 tequilas on display in the window) and said the new casino might just change the way he felt about Atlantic City.
"This is the closest I've felt to Vegas," he said. "In Atlantic City, you could never go out at night and have fun. Now you could actually put on nice clothes and come down. I'm starting to like it down here more."
On its first full day of operation yesterday, the $1.1 billion Borgata drew crowds who waited in traffic backed up a half-mile all the way into the $330 million tunnel from the Atlantic City Expressway, waited in long lines to sign up for their Borgata card to keep track of their slot play, and generally heaped praise on the first new casino in town in 13 years.
Borgata executives, meanwhile, were exhausted but buoyed by the smooth - as these things go - opening of the long-awaited destination resort.
"We are really jazzed," chief executive officer Robert Boughner said before declaring that in addition to capturing a market of younger, hipper Atlantic City rejectors, his upscale place would be going after the international set. "There's interest [in the casino] in the U.K. and Germany."
Atlantic City officials were equally buoyant. At least yesterday, nobody was making fun of their easy-target gaming mecca.
"You have brought Las Vegas to Atlantic City - and Las Vegas looks a lot better in Atlantic City than it does in Nevada," City Council President Craig Callaway told a crowd of Borgata and state officials, including an upbeat Gov. McGreevey, making nice to the industry whose taxes he just raised.
Still, executives said it would be months before they could gauge how things have gone. Terry Lanni, president of MGM Grand, the Borgata's co-owner, said he would consider building another casino in town only if the Borgata proved it could expand the market and not just siphon customers from other casinos.
Meanwhile, down at the pool and spa, they were showing off things such as the day suite for two ("It's set up so you can share this with a partner and take a Jacuzzi with a fireplace," said the tour guide), and Bath Suite 2 ("It looks like a bordello," the helpful guide said). The barbershop has a pool table.
The spa also features a spacious indoor pool, dramatically landscaped with palm trees facing two-story-length windows. There is no outdoor pool. Neither the spa nor the pool was open to guests yet; both are expected to be open within a week.
On the gaming floor, regulators were working out small glitches, including some confusion over the route employees take after picking up money from tables. The ballyhooed $1,000 slot machine had a lot of people gawking, but not many playing.
One person played overnight and won a few grand, then switched to the $100 machine, said Paul Tjoumakaris, head of slot operations.
Borgata slot machines take no coins, so there were none of the usual rivers of coins hitting metal. But plenty of jackpot bells were going off, reinforcing the common belief that casino debuts feature generous odds.
A husband and a wife from Belmar in Monmouth County sat side by side at slot machines and won $10,000 and $5,000 at almost the same moment.
The casino opened earlier than expected - with a predicted 3 a.m. opening moved to midnight, and then to 11:38 p.m. when things seemed ready to go. Actor Stephen Dorff (Blade), with Joey Pants by his side, promptly blew $500 at the craps table, and then the public was let in. The casino was pulsing until about 4 a.m.
By midday, the crowds were back. "We look like a Saturday," Tjoumakaris said. "We're all packed."
Among other things, including an expansive Vegas-style layout and grandeur, a lot of people liked the chairs.
"They make a very comfortable seat," said Katherine Sheeran, 62, of Atlantic City, who was playing the slots.
"Excellent chairs," said Scott Rosen, 22, standing near the blackjack tables. "And the dealers are more energetic."
But others said they missed the beach. The Borgata is the only casino in town to have neither beach nor marina as an amenity.
Meanwhile, around town, some casinos tried to be heard against the din of the Borgata.
The Sands Hotel Casino bravely made plans to go ahead with the debut of its Swingers lounge - featuring none other than Pantoliano and some of his Sopranos buddies.
Yes, it seems the struggling Sands arranged for the suddenly ubiquitous Joey Pants to grace its ceremony - only to see him bolt for the Borgata for a good time the night before. No wonder the Sands said it would be loosening odds to keep other gamblers from doing the same.
The Borgata "is going to cause a lot of pain around town," predicted Michael Pollock, publisher of the Gaming Industry Observer. "But there will be a lot of people out there who have not tried Atlantic City in years that are going to try it."
Contact staff writer Amy Rosenberg at 609-823-0453 or email@example.com.