NJ Gov. Murphy Orders Atlantic City Casinos to Suspend Overnight Indoor Food and Beverage Service

Posted on: November 10, 2020, 08:32h. 

Last updated on: November 10, 2020, 09:18h.

Atlantic City casinos, on the order of New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy (D), must stop serving food and beverages indoors between 10 pm and 5 am ET.

Atlantic City casinos food beverages Murphy
Beginning November 12, Atlantic City casinos will only be allowed to serve food and beverages between 5 am and 10 pm. (Image: Press of Atlantic City)

Effective Thursday, November 12, restaurants across the Garden State, including those inside casinos, must stop indoor service nightly during those times. Restaurants can continue fulfilling takeout orders, as well as serving guests seated outside — though it’s November, and despite a warm streak this week in New Jersey, it’s still quite cold for outdoor seating past 10 pm.

Atlantic City’s gaming industry got precisely the opposite of what it recently asked for. Key executives and industry reps have pleaded with Murphy to increase indoor dining capacity from 25 percent to 50 percent, and allow for larger conventions to be held inside.

A spike in COVID-19 cases has caused Murphy to backtrack on coronavirus restrictions.

The last thing I want to do is shut our economy back down. Thankfully, we’re not at that point,” Murphy said yesterday. “We’re taking steps to mitigate the current increasing rate of spread.”

“We must shake off pandemic fatigue and get back into the mindset that saw us crush the curve this spring,” the governor added.

New Jersey has reported a total of 256,653 COVID-19 cases. The disease has been cited for 14,640 deaths. There are currently 1,645 people hospitalized in the state with the coronavirus.

Starving Atlantic City

Murphy’s decision to make Atlantic City casinos suspend food and beverage service inside is yet another blow to the already struggling industry. Land-based gross gaming revenue at the nine casino resorts is down 49.7 percent through September, a loss of more than $1 billion.

The inability to grab a bite to eat or drink after 10 pm without going outside will reduce play on their gaming floors. “Gaming operations may continue around the clock. But after 10:00 pm, no food or drink will be available to anyone inside the casino,” the governor declared.

Previous restrictions greatly hampered thousands of people from visiting Atlantic City during the pandemic. It’s resulted in 4,782 job cuts as of the end of September.

New Jersey’s gaming industry reported a second quarter gross operating profit loss of $112 million. Because casinos were allowed to reopen in early July, that figure is expected to be slightly better when third quarter results are released. But profits will nonetheless be in the red, and represent a steep year-over-year loss.

Murphy’s Law

Murphy critics are asking where the decision to force indoor restaurants to stop serving food and beverages overnight came from.

The virus only spreads after 10 pm. It’s science,” tweeted one critic in jest.

“Governor, I support you, but I don’t understand something. I refuse to eat at an indoor restaurant anyway. But what is the point of shutting down indoor dining during the least crowded hours? If I were to go, I’d feel safer going to a diner at midnight than 6 pm,” explained another.

Murphy’s supporters tried to help reason the decision. “After 10 pm, people are likelier to be drunk or intoxicated and letting their guard down,” read a tweet.