The casinos of Atlantic City have reopened in a pandemic world in a bid to try to salvage lost business. However, gamblers in Atlantic City are already being confronted with a very different casino experience.
Following a 108-day closure, many of Atlantic City’s casinos reopened their doors at the beginning of July. Avid visitors to the tables in Atlantic City have already noticed some of the changes casinos have made in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy published guidance on what casinos should do in order to reopen safely and prevent a resurgence of the virus.
Compliance within casinos appeared to be nearly universal. An Associated Press reporter said that in more than two hours on the floor of the Hard Rock Casino he didn’t see a single customer not wearing a face mask of some kind. He also reported some customers were wearing full-face hoods extending down to their chests.
Casinos are currently limited to 25% of their usual operating capacity. At the tables, plexiglass dividers have been implemented in order to separate seats. Furthermore, slot machines are switched off every so often to maintain distance between players.
Thus far, it seems patrons are following both mask and social distancing guidelines.
Despite videos emerging from major retailers like Walmart and Costco of confrontations between customers and staff over their anti-virus measures, the same scenes have not played out in Atlantic City.
On the contrary, visitors to the casinos of Atlantic City have responded positively to the changes.
Tony Revaman from Atlantic City says he used to visit the casinos twice a week before the March 16th shutdown. He said, “It’s great to be back. Only thing is you can’t smoke. I’m a smoker and I’m trying to find some way around this.”
Patrons of Atlantic City’s casinos were almost universal in their desire to follow the rules as long as they could gamble again.
Mike McLaughlin of Willow Grove, Pennsylvania, said, “Accept, adapt, and have fun. I’m a gambler; this is what I do.”
Eight of the nine Atlantic City casinos reopened their doors at the start of July, with three holding out for an extra day to give their high rollers a chance for a one-day head start, and to test out the new coronavirus measures in place.
The city’s largest and most profitable casino, the Borgata, decided against reopening. Indoor dining, drinking bans, and smoking bans within casinos encouraged the Borgata to reverse its reopening plans.
The Borgata has, finally, set a tentative date of July 26th for reopening. It remains unclear as to whether Governor Murphy will ease any of the coronavirus restrictions currently in place. However, the Borgata has been largely forced into a corner and has been forced to reopen in order to protect its position as the local market leader.
Anyone who has been reading the latest news regarding coronavirus will know that the number of infections throughout the US has exploded again. A spike in deaths in the coming weeks is widely expected. New Jersey has already experienced a major outbreak in cases.
This will leave Atlantic City’s nine casinos wondering whether they will be forced to reclose their doors and cause more disruption to their businesses.
The decision will likely rest on not New Jersey but on Atlantic City itself. If a major outbreak occurs within the city, another lockdown for the state’s casinos is likely.
For now, though, casinos are doing what they can to ensure that no clusters of coronavirus are traced back to their casinos or the city.
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