Atlantic City Casinos Resume Indoor Dining, Gaming Floor Beverage Service This Week

Posted on: September 1, 2020, 02:41h. 

Last updated on: September 2, 2020, 09:39h.

After what will be 172 days, Atlantic City casinos will be permitted to resume indoor dining and beverage service on their gaming floors this Friday, September 4.

Atlantic City casinos indoor dining
Atlantic City diners will soon be permitted to come inside, including at the town’s nine casinos. (Image: Tim Hawk/NJ Advance Media)

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) announced that come 6 a.m. on Friday, indoor dining, smoking, and drinks will be permitted on the casino floors. Restaurants must limit their capacity to 25 percent, maintain six feet distance between tables, and require staff and diners to wear masks at all times except when eating. Food and beverages can only be consumed while seated.

It’s big news for the town’s nine brick-and-mortar casinos. Since being allowed to reopen ahead of the July 4 holiday weekend, casino guests have been limited to eating outdoors or inside their hotel rooms.

The reprieve arrives in three short days, and the timing — just before the unofficial end of summer, the Labor Day long weekend — is an extra reason to rejoice.

Wine and Dine

First-class dining is part of the casino experience for many. Atlantic City casinos hope the resumption of indoor restaurant options will return visitors, especially high rollers who can now be better entertained and comped.

Although food and beverage revenue represented only 17.5 percent of total revenue [in Q3 of 2019], having indoor dining will make a visit to the casinos more attractive, especially to visitors who may have postponed their summer vacation plans,” said Jane Bokunewicz, coordinator of the Lloyd D. Levenson Institute of Gaming, Hospitality and Tourism at Stockton University.

Gross gaming revenue (GGR) in July totaled $147.7 million at Atlantic City’s brick-and-mortar floors, a 47 percent year-over-year drop. August numbers haven’t yet been released.

The nine casinos posted a collective operating loss of $112 million in the second quarter. With their land-based floors closed throughout the three months, the operators had to rely on internet gambling and limited sports betting.

Murphy permitting 25 percent capacity at indoor restaurants will feel like a major win for the casinos. “The best customers for these casinos are also customers at their hotels, customers at their restaurants,” said Rutgers University Economics Professor Bruce Mizrach last week.

Murphy’s Law

New Jersey’s first-term governor has repeatedly warned Garden State residents that if they do not comply with regulations, he will reverse course.

Murphy did just that in early July when he allowed casinos to reopen, but then extended his ban on indoor dining. That change prompted Borgata to keep its doors shut. The MGM Resorts property finally decided to turn on its slot machines on July 26.

We’ve been working hard for several months to get to this point,” Murphy said yesterday. “Our job now is to ensure that this reopening only leads to future announcements expanding the indoor capacity limits, and that we do not have to take a step backward.”

“Everyone must pull together,” the governor concluded.