Commercial Gaming

Atlantic City Casinos Staying Open Despite COVID-19 Spike

Atlantic City casinos are remaining open despite gaming properties in neighboring states being forced to close because of a jump in new COVID-19 cases.

Atlantic City casinos are keeping the slots on and roulette wheels spinning during the Thanksgiving holiday. (Image: Press of Atlantic City)

Last week, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) reimplemented coronavirus restrictions on indoor dining. As of November 12, restaurants must stop serving food and beverage inside between 9 pm and 5 am. The directive applies to eateries inside Atlantic City casinos.

New Jersey is experiencing a fall surge in COVID-19 cases, as is being experienced across the country. Murphy is urging residents to avoid large gatherings during next week’s Thanksgiving holiday. But, for now, gambling can continue.

We believe, based on the evidence that we have, that they’ve been able to responsibly manage their casino floors,” Murphy said at a briefing today.

“Whether it’s through personal protective equipment, dividers, capacity management, temperature checks, review of symptoms checks with people who go onto the floor, there is not any evidence … that there is a big outbreak coming from participating on the floor,” the governor added.

Gambling Fine, Grandma Not

Some casinos in nearby regions are closing ahead of the holiday week.

Rivers Philadelphia is the nearest casino outside Atlantic City. But come Friday, November 20, and lasting through at least January 1, the Philly city casino will be closed. That’s a result of a City of Philadelphia directive.

Parx Casino and Harrah’s Philadelphia will remain open, as will the rest of Pennsylvania’s nine casinos. Last week, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) ordered the state’s four upstate commercial casinos to close nightly at 10 pm.

Murphy closed Atlantic City’s casinos from March 18 to July 2. For now, he sees no reason to once again shutter the gaming spaces.

Instead, he warned Garden State residents that grandma’s life is on the line next week during Turkey Day.

“Thanksgiving is one week from tomorrow,” Murphy tweeted. “This is not the year for a big family gathering. Mississippi State Medical Association President Dr. Mark Horne put it very succinctly: ‘We don’t really want to see Mamaw at Thanksgiving and bury her by Christmas.'”

Travel Forecast, AC Rooms

AAA predicts that despite a nationwide increase in coronavirus spread and governors urging residents to stay at home, some 50 million Americans will still travel this Thanksgiving. That’s down five million from the association’s 2019 Thanksgiving forecast.

Murphy has directed anyone arriving in New Jersey from any state other than Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Delaware, and New York to quarantine for 14 days.

For those interested in spending the holiday in Atlantic City, rooms remain available — and they won’t cost you an arm and a turkey leg. A Wednesday through Saturday standard room stay at the Borgata runs $172 a night, inclusive of all taxes and resort fees. Ocean Casino is $178 per night, and Tropicana $150 a night.

For the budget traveler, the Showboat — a nongaming Boardwalk property — has rooms for just $88 a night.

Devin O'Connor

Gaming Legislation, Politics, Casino Business, Entertainment----Devin O’Connor’s passion for politics and background in the world of pop culture television give him insight into the gaming industry backstories that often drive news these days. After graduating from Penn State University with a theater arts degree, he worked at MTV Networks/Viacom from 2005 to 2010 as a writer and producer, where his credits included Total Request Live, New Year's Eve specials, and a special featuring poker superstar Daniel Negreanu. He later moved on to the HGTV/DIY Network, where he created, wrote, and produced three series specials: That's So House Hunters, That's So 80s, and That's So 90s. Devin came on board with Casino.org in 2014. He lives in Pennsylvania, and is an avid marathoner, having completed 15 races to date. Email: devin.oconnor@casino.org

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Devin O'Connor