A top officer of Resorts International Inc., which operates the only fully licensed casino in Atlantic City, yesterday predicted that the ABSCAM scandal and possible resulting regulatory changes in new Jersey will have no effect on the company's thriving operations.
But Steven Norton, a Resorts vice president, said the controversy surrounding New Jersey casino operations "could affect the new casinos coming on line."
Norton's remarks, presented to a meeting of the Washington Society of Investment Analysts, outlined a continuing growth pattern for Resorts and major plans to continue Atlantic City operations.
Resorts already owns more than 600 acres in Atlantic City, including about 80 acres of property alongside the boardwalk.
Norton said the company plans to build, by 1982, a "city of the future" in Atlantic City, designed by the architechural firm founded by Edward Durrell-Stone that will include luxury condominiums, shopping malls, sporting facilities and at least three casino hotels.
In addition, Resorts is in the process of building a 1,000-to-1,200-room hotel designed by John Portman in Atlantic City, a facility that will include a 100,000-square-feet gambling space.
But the major project, which Norton called "urban renewel," is facing a major stumbling block, namely the New Jersey state government, which claims to own a major piece of the land in the Resorts deed. Resorts is "not about to pay the state $175 a square foot" for the land, which amounts to a claim of about 8 acres of the 60-to-70-acre site.
Nevertheless, Norton painted an extremely rosy picture of Resorts, a profitable, but only slightly known comapny before their major Atlantic City endeavor.
Already the operator of a set of Bahamas resorts and an airline to service those islands. Resorts showed a profit of $51 million in 1978, the first year of Atlantic City operations, after making about $3 million in 1977.
For the first three quarters of 1979, Resorts reported profits of $80.5 million, more than double the profit figure of $34 million for the same period in 1978.
Calling Resorts a "leisure time and entertainment" company, Norton said the company is "prepared to expand into other states" as soon as legalized gambling measures show progress. "This is a growth industry few if any can match," he said.
Despite the fact that other companies have received temporary licenses in Atlantic City, Norton suggested that competition will only bring more dollars into the city. Beginning in 1981, for example, the city claims contracts for $1 billion in convention business over the next eight years.
Norton's appearance here is part of a Resorts attempt to improve the company's image before the general public and particularly before the investors.