Just before Christmas, New Jersey casino regulators made way for some girls on Santa's naughty list.
The state Division of Gaming Enforcement ruled Friday that it would be OK to have a strip club inside the Taj Mahal Casino Resort. It would be Atlantic City's first so-called "gentlemen's club" inside a casino in the 33-year history of legalized gambling here.
The ruling would permit Scores to open a $3 million club inside the Taj, provided the company can apply for and get a liquor license.
"This multi-faceted project will give us additional entertainment, food, beverage, and retail amenities that will be great additions to the property," said Robert Griffin, CEO of Trump Entertainment Resorts.
In a ruling that bordered on an anatomy lesson, governing in explicit detail what could be shown and what needs to stay covered, the division said dancers could strip down only to a G-string and pasties. Lap dances would be prohibited, as would any simulation of sexual activity.
Private dance rooms would be available, at a cost of $300 for 30 minutes, subject to the same restrictions on what can and can't be done. And that only covers the use of the room; the dancer would negotiate her own fee with the customer.
As envisioned in Scores' application, first made in July 2010, a dancer would start out dressed in an evening gown and strip down to a G-string and pasties, small clingy patches of fabric designed to cover nipples.
The ruling would permit so-called "table-side" dances in which a dancer would gyrate close to a seated patron.
Tips could be tucked inside a dancer's leg garter.
"Entertainers are instructed to remove the hand of any patron touching them elsewhere, and to place it by the patron's side with a side-to-side `no' shake of her head," the company's application read.
David Rebuck, acting director of the gaming enforcement division, said nothing in Scores' application runs afoul of existing New Jersey laws governing adult entertainment inside casinos.
"This regulation does not prohibit the wearing of pasties and thongs by dancers/entertainers within the casino-hotel complex, and clearly contemplates that some entertainment offerings in a casino hotel complex will be suggestive," he wrote.
The division says New Jersey had long anticipated the "Las Vegas-style revue" would be incorporated here, with certain restrictions. It says as long as the dancers don't get naked or touch the patrons in a provocative way, such a club would be permissible.
In its request for permission, Scores told regulators its club would charge "a significant admission fee" and would be "richly furnished, first-class, exceptional."
The club says its venture would create between 80 and 100 new jobs for managers, bartenders and support staff, in addition to 150 to 200 "independent contractor" jobs for dancers.
Scores Atlantic City, as the club would be called, would up the ante on Atlantic City's race to sex up its image. It would compete for the same upscale gentlemen's club patrons as The Diving Horse, which opened in May and also includes a steakhouse. Scores would not have any restaurants.
During the summer, three casinos have bikini beach bars on the sand. Outside the gambling halls, there are a half-dozen strip clubs and a sex swingers/voyeurs club.
Inside the gambling halls, several casinos have hired lingerie-clad "dealer-tainers" to run table games and entertain, if not distract, the bettors.
Wayne Parry can be reached at http://twitter.com/WayneParryAC