Borgata Opts to Remain Closed After New Jersey Governor Keeps Indoor Dining Restriction in Place
Posted on: June 30, 2020, 11:33h.
Last updated on: July 1, 2020, 09:57h.
New Jersey’s casinos still can reopen as early as this Thursday. But the state’s largest venue has pulled back on its plan to resume operations next week after Gov. Phil Murphy (D) put the brakes on allowing indoor dining to take place.
Murphy revealed his decision Monday, citing the increase COVID-19 cases in states that have allowed indoor dining and bars to reopen. Hours later officials with the Borgata Hotel Casino and Spa announced the Atlantic City attraction would stay closed instead of welcoming back patrons next Monday.
An invitation-only event was scheduled to take place prior to the public reopening.
Our guests expect a special experience when they come to our property, and if we cannot provide that level of hospitality, we feel it best that we remain closed until such time that the Governor lets us know it is safe to offer food and beverage,” the casino’s statement read.
Jocelyn Kelly, a regional corporate communications executive director for MGM, told Casino.org Tuesday that the Las Vegas-based company does not have a new reopening date targeted for the Borgata.
No casino in the South Jersey town has more table games (189) or slots (2,864) as the MGM Resorts International property. Prior to the casinos closing in mid-March, the Borgata year-to-date gross revenue of $131.5 million was more than twice as much as the next Atlantic City casino (Harrah’s with $59.7 million).
While restaurants and bars will not be able to accommodate patrons indoors, for now, casinos will still be able to open later this week at up to 25 percent capacity. Masks are also required when in public.
No other Atlantic City casino opted to immediately follow the Borgata’s lead.
Murphy Hopes to Ease Restriction Soon
During a press conference Tuesday, Murphy said he made the decision with the state’s health in mind, knowing the casinos would take another hit after having been closed for nearly four months.
“It brings me no joy to not allow them to get back more fully on their feet,” the governor said. “I would hope it’s sooner than later again. Again, I think we’re talking here a short amount of time, please God.”
Also on Tuesday, Murphy joined New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) and Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont (D) is extending a 14-day self-quarantine order for visitors coming to the tri-state area from eight more states, including Nevada. In all, the three northeastern states, which were hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic back in March and April, have placed the quarantine order in effect for visitors in 16 states.
Since hitting its peak caseload back in April, the tri-state area has since become one of the best regions for battling COVID-19. New Jersey has seen its daily confirmed cases drop by nearly 95 percent from its peak three months ago.
However, Murphy’s decision to pare back the reopening has left some in Jersey’s gaming industry upset. Bob McDevitt, president of UNITE HERE Local 54, told the Associated Press Tuesday he’s not sure the casinos should reopen if they can’t offer food and drink inside.
The Atlantic City-based union represents about 10,000 workers.
“This is like Catholic school,” McDevitt said. “A handful of people misbehaves, and the entire class gets punished.”
MGM Working with Other States on Reopening
The Borgata is one of 21 properties MGM either owns or operates in the US. With the Aria Resort and Casino, Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, and Delano slated to open Wednesday, 13 MGM properties will have reopened to some capacity.
Four MGM Las Vegas properties remain shuttered, including the Mirage and Park MGM.
Nearly 800 of the nation’s 989 commercial and tribal casinos have reopened, according to the American Gaming Association. However, there are several commercial casinos that remain closed in the northeastern corner of the country. Besides the Borgata, that region is also home to two other MGM properties: the Empire City Casino in Yonkers, New York, and the MGM Springfield in Massachusetts.
“We continue to work closely with government and health officials in New York and Massachusetts and are implementing safety protocols at Empire City Casino and MGM Springfield that are consistent with federal and state guidance,” Kelly told Casino.org.
In the Midwest, the MGM Grand in Detroit also remains closed, as the state has yet to announce when Michigan’s commercial casinos can resume operations.
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