Atlantic City Casinos Reopen Following 108 Days Dark

Posted on: July 2, 2020, 07:45h. 

Last updated on: July 2, 2020, 02:31h.

Atlantic City casinos began reopening today, July 2, following 108 days of being closed on New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy’s (D) orders. The coronavirus pandemic resulted in the extraordinary decision for the state to force gaming to halt for more than three months.

Atlantic City casinos coronavirus
Atlantic City casinos are offering a new experience for eager gamblers returning to the floors this holiday weekend. (Image: Edward Lea/Press of Atlantic City)

Hard Rock, Ocean, Resorts, Tropicana, and Golden Nugget all opened their doors this morning. Hard Rock and Golden Nugget welcomed back guests at 6 a.m., while Ocean, Tropicana, and Resorts opened at 8 a.m.

Caesars, Bally’s, and Harrah’s opened only for their highest-loyalty members and will resume business for the general public tomorrow. Borgata, owned by MGM Resorts, is remaining shut for the foreseeable future. Atlantic City’s richest casino in terms of gross gaming revenue (GGR) decided not to open following Murphy’s extension on prohibiting indoor dining.

For the casinos that did open, today has been a celebration of sorts — but one under strict health safety measures. Protective face masks are required for employees and guests, and smoking, eating, and drinking inside is banned.

Atypical Casino Experience

Atlantic City casinos are back open, but they’re operating in unprecedented manners.

Allowing gaming establishments to reopen during a pandemic is certainly not without risk. The properties are taking numerous measures to help mitigate the coronavirus.

Each casino floor is being limited to 25 percent occupancy, and the number of playable slot machines is being limited to promote social distancing. Seats at table games have been reduced, and plexiglass dividers have been installed at select tables.

Before a gambler is allowed to sit down at a table game, he or she must first sanitize their hands. Slot attendants are proactively cleaning and sanitizing slot machines.

New Jersey ranks third in the number of COVID-19 cases, behind only New York and California. The Garden State has reported 177,238 positive tests, and the virus has been cited for 6,168 deaths.

What’s the Point?

Many are not thrilled about the new gaming experience. Following Murphy’s announcement late Monday night that indoor dining will not resume, and smoking and eating inside casinos remains forbidden, one of Atlantic City’s most powerful individuals spoke out.

Honestly, I don’t know why the casinos would open,” said Bob McDevitt, president of Unite Here Local 54, the labor union that represents some 10,000 gaming industry workers in Atlantic City. “It’s like running a hot dog stand with no condiments and no buns.”

New Jersey Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-Gloucester) shared a similar sentiment.

“Who wants to go to a casino if you can’t get dinner or a drink?” Sweeney asked. “The ban on indoor dining is having a direct impact on the health of the tens of thousands of casino workers losing their healthcare.”

Despite sharing the same political party affiliation, Sweeney has been a vocal critic of Murphy. The Senate president believes the state is dragging its feet in allowing certain businesses to reopen.

Murphy countered yesterday, “Indoor environments where it’s impossible to wear masks, or where people are sedentary for long periods of time without masks — such as gyms, bars, and restaurants — remain the MOST DANGEROUS in terms of transmission.”