AyCee casinos plan star-studded spring

Atlantic City’s casinos may still be struggling to compete with their competition at the slot machines and gaming tables, but the spring entertainment roster suggests the town remains the show biz Beast of the East.

A slew of major bookings have been set, led by Borgata’s June 19 date with Sting. Other A-listers headed to the Big B include: Counting Crows (April 28); comedian-actor Russell Brand (May 4 and 5); The Brian Wilson-led Beach Boys' 50th anniversary tour (May 19); Steve Winwood (May 25) and Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons (June 8 and 9).

But, as they say on all those TV commercials, wait, there’s more. For instance, we are happy to report the return to Harrah’s Resort Atlantic City of the always wonderfully entertaining (or is that entertainingly wonderful?) Penn & Teller (May 18). Also set for the bayside gaming hall is country icon Merle Haggard (April 21).

Elsewhere in town you can find Americana avatars Alison Krause & Union Station (April 20, Caesars Atlantic City); “America’s Got Talent” champ, ventriloquist Terry Fator (April 21, Trump Taj Mahal); shock-rocker Marilyn Manson (May 4, House of Blues inside Showboat Atlantic City); "rockestra" stalwart Trans-Siberian Orchestra (May 5, Caesars) and comic/HBO gabber Bill Maher (June 8, Caesars).

The list is expected to grow even more impressive once the open-in-40-days Revel announces its headliners.

Nugget goes Italiano

The newest place to stuff your face at the almost-totally renovated Golden Nugget is the Italian eatery, Grotto.

Grotto, whose culinary format relies on traditional "red gravy" cooking, boasts decor inspired by the films of Frederico Fellini and a 200-label wine list, and offers patrons free valet parking. You can spend as much as $34.99 (for an 8-ounce Italian-style filet), but a good deal of the entrees clock in at $20 or less.

Hours of operation are 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Wednesday and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Thursday through Saturday. For more info (including lunch and dinner menus) go to http://www.goldennugget.com/AtlanticCity/eat_grotto.asp

Luck to be feted at Harrah’s

No, we’re not talking about gamblers’ good fortune. Instead it’s Stanford University quarterback Andrew Luck, the star attraction at the 75th annual Maxwell Football Club Dinner set for March 2 at Harrah’s.

Luck is the winner of this year’s Maxwell Club Award which, like the Heisman Trophy, honors the best of collegiate football players. Past honorees include such gridiron immortals as Roger Staubach, Tony Dorsett, Herschel Walker and Chuck Bednarik.

Tickets for the event, which is set for 7:30 p.m. are $300 per person and $3,500 for a table of 12. At 11 a.m. that day, the public is invited—for free—to sit in on the organization’s press conference.

For more info and reservations, call 215-643-3833, or go to www.maxwellfootballclub.org.

Poker pro to christen Mount Airy poker room

Cyndi Violette, one of the world’s top female poker players, will be on hand Saturday to help celebrate the opening of the new poker room at Mount Airy Casino Resort in Pocono Twp., Pa.

The 11-table card parlor is located on the casino’s second floor, and features a panoramic view of the property’s bucolic surroundings.

Saturday’s inaugural festivities commence at 1:45 p.m. From 2 to 4 p.m., there will be a tournament whose finalists will get to take on Violette (as well as winners from prior Mount Airy tourneys).

The day concludes with a 5:30 p.m. public meet-and-greet with Violette. For more, call 877-682-4791.