Almanac: Atlantic City gambling

(CBS News) And now a page from our "Sunday Morning" Almanac: May 26th, 1978, 35 years ago today . . . the day Atlantic City tried to change its luck:

For that was the day New Jersey Governor Brendan Byrne opened the city's first legal casino.

Atlantic City had fallen far from its golden days earlier in the century, when vacationers used to frolic on the beach . . . walk the famous Boardwalk . . . and flock to the Steel Pier, whose attractions included the Diving Horses (casting doubt on the entire notion of Horse Sense).

The beauty contest that became the Miss America pageant began here in 1921.

By the 1930s, Atlantic City street names had been immortalized on the Monopoly Board.

And in 1964, Atlantic City played host to the Democratic National Convention.

But by the 1970s, changing vacation tastes had left Atlantic City behind -- hence the move to legalize casinos . . . in hopes of re-booting Atlantic City as a kind of Las Vegas East.

By 1988, a dozen casinos had opened . . . and the number of visitors had skyrocketed, from 700,000 to 33 million in just 10 years.

Unluckily enough for Atlantic City . . . other East Coast cities and states jumped aboard the casino bandwagon, taking gamblers away.

Last year, Atlantic City casinos suffered their seventh straight year of declining revenues . . . made worse by a week of closures forced by Superstorm Sandy.

Still, in a sign of an Atlantic City comeback, the Miss America Pageant is returning to its hometown this fall after an eight-year flirtation with Las Vegas.

Just don't expect to see the diving horses any time soon; a plan to bring them back was scrapped last year.

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