Atlantic City Nears Travel Boom, as Warmer Weather and Vaccines Arrive, Survey Says

Posted on: March 9, 2021, 09:48h. 

Last updated on: March 9, 2021, 12:04h.

Atlantic City is ready for a comeback, a new survey finds. 

Atlantic City casino gaming industry
People wear face masks on the Atlantic City Boardwalk last summer. A survey finds satisfaction regarding COVID-19 safety measures among those who have returned to the casino mecca during the pandemic. (Image: Reuters)

Stockton University’s Lloyd D. Levenson Institute of Gaming, Hospitality, and Tourism (LIGHT) surveyed more than 800 people recently to gauge their attitudes and opinions on Atlantic City. The poll found strong enthusiasm among the majority for returning to the New Jersey beachfront gaming town in the near future.

Of the 806 respondents, 46.4 percent said they plan to visit Atlantic City within the next three months. Another 26 percent said they will likely do so in three to six months. 

Forty-two percent of those polled said they have visited Atlantic City since the nine casinos were permitted to reopen last July following state-ordered shutdowns. Those who visited said they felt rather safe while patronizing the area.

Those who have visited since the casinos reopened say they were satisfied with the safety precautions in place,” explained Phil Kening, the lead LIGHT researcher. 

Nearly eight in 10 people who have visited Atlantic City since July reported being satisfied with their trip’s experience. 

Gaming Safety Scores Top Mark

One of the more promising data points from the LIGHT poll for the gaming industry is that those who have recently visited Atlantic City reported feeling relatively safe from the coronavirus while on casino floors. 

On a scale of “0” being “extremely unsafe,” to “100” being “extremely safe,” poll respondents graded gambling a 76. It was the highest-ranked subset in the survey’s “Safety: Risk of Exposure to COVID-19” category. 

Dining matched gambling with a score of 76. Shopping was 75, walking the Boardwalk 73, using a public restroom 72, and indoor meetings the lowest at 70. 

“The casinos and other dining and entertainment venues have done a good job implementing COVID-19 safety measures while also still providing the experiences visitors expect when they come to Atlantic City,” said Jane Bokunewicz, coordinator of LIGHT. “Even as restrictions are gradually lifted and more people get a vaccine, the venues will still have to demonstrate that they are taking all necessary precautions to make visitors feel welcomed and safe.”

Atlantic City’s Economic Recovery

COVID-19 resulted in gross gaming revenue in Atlantic City plunging 43 percent in 2020. Last year’s win was nearly $1.2 billion less than the nine casinos won in 2019. 

But with vaccines being distributed and many visitors saying they plan to soon return, there’s a growing sense of optimism in Atlantic City.

Pretty good vibes,” Kening said of the visitor survey. 

The summer months are when Atlantic City sees its highest visitor volumes. Casino stakeholders and gaming industry analysts have expressed bullishness on the city’s recovery, many citing pent-up demand for their reasoning.

While most concerts and performances have been canceled through July, Atlantic City is hoping to have a star-studded entertainment lineup for the latter part of the summer. Notable August bookings that remain scheduled include Wyclef Jean on August 14 at Borgata, John Legend on August 21 at the Borgata, and KISS on August 21 at Jim Whelan Boardwalk Hall.