Atlantic City Casinos Subject to Extended COVID-19 Restrictions
Casinos in Atlantic City will be subject to COVID-19 restrictions for an additional 30 days.
By now, most residents in the United States felt like the COVID-19 pandemic would be a thing of the past. Unfortunately, that is not the case. We are still dealing with the virus across the nation, with seemingly no end in sight. With the virus still an issue, entertainment businesses like casinos are either closed or subject to lower capacity limits and other restrictions. In Atlantic City, gaming venues just learned this week that the current restrictions are going to remain in place for another 30 days.
Public Emergency Extension
It seems the public emergency status in New Jersey is never-ending. Just this week, Governor Phil Murphy decided to extend the order again, the 11th time since March. The nine operating casinos in Atlantic City will need to continue to offer services at 25% capacity. This number does not include employees with the total.
Everyone inside the casinos must wear a face mask. Employees and patrons will need to keep a mask on at all times to avoid any spread of the virus. Table game seating will continue to be reduced and slot machines will be arranged so that players remain separated from each other.
Governor Murphy took to Twitter to reiterate the extension. Unless it is extended again, the order will end in thirty days. The governor pointed out that the status of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country dictates that this format needs to continue to ensure the virus spread slows down.
In the state, the hospital system is stable currently. The governor feels that the vaccination process will be faster with the Joe Biden administration at the helm.
Trying to Gain Ground
Each casino in Atlantic City is trying hard to see their gaming revenues increase via brick-and-mortar operations. In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic had a drastic impact on the industry. The gross gaming revenue numbers dropped 44%, with $1.5 billion earned. This was much more than the $1.2 billion loss from the previous year.
For the year 2021, executives and analysts of the gaming industry are optimistic. However, the increase of the restrictions could cause issues, at least for the beginning of the year. People are being urged to stay home and with the suspension of indoor dining and drink service, players are less likely to visit the casinos in Atlantic City.
The economic engine that is the gambling city is basically in shambles. The industry is not earning near enough to make up for last year’s losses and if they cannot gain any ground this year, it could be disastrous for some operators, potentially leading to more layoffs or even closures.
Operating profits for 2020 remained down when compared to 2019, dropping by 86% with just over $68 million in earnings. The tourism industry was hit hard, with over 15,000 of the hotel rooms at casinos remaining empty during three quarters of the year.
With less guests, it means less profits. We do not have access to the final quarter of the year or the last quarter results, but it seems that it will most likely be short as well.
The state has benefited from online gambling, which has provided a nice buffer for the land-based losses. Without the online gambling totals each month, the state would be in a much larger hole than they are now. Sports betting, online casino gaming, and poker all helped to provide a cushion for the state as a whole.
By adding in the online totals, the state was only down by close to 17% in gross gaming revenues. The online gaming industry saw a huge boost in revenues as players took to online gaming as an alternative for entertainment.