Atlantic City Casinos Employing Nearly 22 Percent Fewer Workers

Posted on: September 30, 2020, 11:16h. 

Last updated on: September 30, 2020, 12:50h.

Atlantic City casinos continue to lay off workers amid the COVID-19 pandemic as the summer resort season comes to a close.

Atlantic City casinos jobs New Jersey
The Atlantic City Boardwalk remains quiet amid the coronavirus crisis. (Image:

The New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) says as of September 1, the nine casinos employed 22,352 people. That’s a decline of 21.8 percent compared with August 2019, or 6,233 positions.

Resorts are beginning their annual seasonal downward adjustments. The DGE figures show the properties laid off 2,528 workers in August from July, a more than 10 percent reduction.

MGM Resorts’ Borgata was responsible for the majority of the August job losses. The Marina District casino cut its workforce from 5,449 people in July to 3,128 last month — a shattering 43 percent purge.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) ordered the casinos to close on March 16. They were permitted to reopen on July 2 at 25 percent capacity.

Borgata Battered

Jane Bokunewicz, coordinator of the Lloyd D. Levenson Institute of Gaming, Hospitality & Tourism at Stockton University, told the Press of Atlantic City that Borgata is being more severely impacted by the loss of convention business.

They have more of a nongaming footprint than others,” Bokunewicz explained. “The food and beverage and convention jobs at Borgata would be among the most vulnerable under current circumstances.”

Murphy allowed indoor dining to resume on September 4. Garden State restaurants were barred from serving inside for 172 days on the governor’s restrictions. New Jersey restaurants, including those inside Atlantic City casinos, are currently permitted to operate at 25 percent of their pre-COVID-19 capacity.

Borgata was the last of the nine Atlantic City casinos to reopen. While eight gaming venues reopened in early July, the MGM casino waited until July 26 to welcome back guests. Borgata said at the time that Murphy’s continued ban on indoor dining and drinking prevented the resort from providing the level of hospitality its guests are accustomed to.

Industry Breakdown

Prior to the pandemic, Atlantic City casinos had 26,450 employees, 18 percent more than they do today.

Unite Here Local 54 President Bob McDevitt says more than 30 percent of the union’s members remain off the job. The union represents some 10,000 casino workers in Atlantic City.

With demand low, restaurants at a quarter capacity, and conventions on hold, fewer jobs are needed for the casinos. The gaming industry reported a $112 million operating loss in the second quarter of 2020.

State lawmakers in Trenton are considering legislation that would provide the gaming industry with temporary tax breaks. The goal is to return laid-off workers to their posts.

Bills being reviewed would lower gaming tax rates and fees the resorts are required to pay. Sponsors of the legislation — Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D-West Deptford) and Sen. Chris Brown (R-Ventnor City) — say the breaks could keep nearly $100 million next year in the casino operators’ pockets.