Governors Order Atlantic City and New York Casinos to Close, Urge Connecticut Tribal Venues to Follow Suit

Posted on: March 16, 2020, 08:30h. 

Last updated on: March 17, 2020, 08:49h.

UPDATE (3/17): Connecticut’s Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods have both closed, as have casinos in Delaware

Commercial casinos in Atlantic City and New York are being forced to shutter operations tonight at 8 p.m. because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Atlantic City casinos coronavirus COVID-19
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy is ordering Atlantic City casinos to close in an effort to contain the coronavirus. (Image: Seth Wenig/AP)

On Monday morning, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D), New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), and Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont (D) convened to discuss the coronavirus crisis. And the decision was to order the commercial casinos to suspend gaming tonight at 8 p.m. The governors are also urging Native American casinos in Connecticut and New York to follow the mandate.

Viruses don’t know borders,” Lamont said in a tweet. “#CT #NY & #NJ are taking a regional approach to reduce spread of #COVID19.”

Along with commercial casinos being forced to close, the trio of governors are ordering that gatherings be limited to no more than 50 people, restaurants and bars only offer take-out or delivery, and movie theaters and gyms are to close.

New York is home to four upstate commercial casinos, two racinos, and several Native American gaming properties. Atlantic City has nine brick-and-mortar casinos, and Connecticut has two tribal casinos.

Online gambling in New Jersey, Murphy said, will continue. Along with the aforementioned mandates, the New Jersey governor has recommended a nightly statewide curfew ranging from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m.

“Everyone needs to stay in and be safe,” Murphy declared. “Just because you don’t feel sick, and this is a particular shout-out to our young people, it doesn’t mean you aren’t carrying the virus.”

Disease Spreading

Health departments for the three states reveal COVID-19 is spreading quickly in the densely populated regions. New York has 729 presumptive positive cases, New Jersey is nearing 100 cases, and Connecticut has 26.

Casinos are closing across the country. New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut (should the tribes adhere to the closing) would bring the total number of states with casinos closed to 16.

MGM Resorts made the most news when it announced Sunday it was closing all of its Las Vegas operations. MGM is Nevada’s largest employer, and owns more Strip casinos than any other company.

Wynn Resorts had earlier said it’s shutting down both of its Strip properties. But full-time workers will be paid during the two-week absence.

As of this writing, Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun – the two Connecticut Native American casinos – remain open. Foxwoods has suspended table games, but electronic tables are still available. Mohegan Sun hasn’t yet canceled any of its gaming.

Neighbors Closed

Casinos closing in Atlantic City, New York, and Connecticut means finding an in-person operational slot machine or table game in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast is difficult.

Maryland has ordered all of its six casinos to close, and several in Pennsylvania have also closed their doors. Massachusetts and Rhode Island both have forced their commercial casinos to suspend operations.

Delaware’s three casinos remain open for business. The First State is home to seven confirmed coronavirus cases.