Atlantic City casinos reopened on July 2, 2020
Source: The Associated Press / apnews.com
Eager to hit the slot machines and table games after a 108-day absence, gamblers wore face masks and did without smoking and drinking on July 2, 2020 as Atlantic City’s casinos reopened amid the coronavirus pandemic that has drastically changed things both inside and outside the casino walls.
Compliance with a series of anti-virus measures imposed by New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy appeared to be nearly universal, at least in the early going. In 2 hours on the gambling floor of the Hard Rock casino, an Associated Press reporter did not see a single customer without a face mask. A few wore full face-covering hoods that extended to their chests.
The casinos are limited to no more than 25% of usual capacity, but that did not appear to be a problem on July 2, 2020 in the morning. Patrons for the most part observed social distancing guidelines as well, helped along by plexiglass dividers between seats at card, craps and roulette tables, and slot machines turned off at certain intervals to create distance between players.
“It’s great to be back,” said Tony Revaman of Atlantic City, who visited the casinos at least twice a week before they shut down March 16. “Only thing is: you can’t smoke. I’m a smoker and I’m trying to find some way around this.” “Accept, adapt and have fun,” said Mike McLaughlin of Willow Grove, Pennsylvania. “I’m a gambler; this is what I do.”
Five of the nine casinos — Hard Rock, Ocean, Resorts, Tropicana and Golden Nugget — reopened their doors Thursday morning, the first day New Jersey allowed them to.
Three more casinos — Caesars, Bally’s, and Harrah’s — reopened the following day.
Only the Borgata, the city’s top-performing casino, will remain shut. It quickly decided to scrap its planned reopening after Murphy canceled permission for indoor dining in the state, and imposed smoking and drinking bans on the casinos. The Borgata has not set a reopening date.
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy canceled what would have been the start of indoor dining in New Jersey. That rocked Atlantic City’s casinos, forcing them to abandon reopening plans they had spent months making.
The 3 month shutdown has been devastating to the casinos’ finances, as well as those of the thousands of people who work in them. In April, the first full month the casinos were closed, Atlantic City’s gambling revenue declined by nearly 69% compared with the same month a year earlier. Statistics for May and June were similarly dire.
When Atlantic City’s nine casinos shuttered, 27,000 workers were instantly thrust out of work, leaving many to rely on food banks as they struggled to access unemployment insurance through a system bogged down by delays. An analysis by the Brookings Institution found that the economy of Atlantic City could be the third hardest-hit by the pandemic in the country.
“Unfortunately for our team members, we had to re-lay off a fair amount of people,” said Ron Baumann, regional president for Caesars Entertainment, which owns Caesars, Bally’s and Harrah’s. “It’s excruciatingly difficult to do that.”