Today was something of a watershed moment in New Jersey, as five Atlantic City casinos have reopened. Tomorrow, three more will follow suit.
Despite being one of only three states in America that allow for full online casino gambling, New Jersey’s decision to reopen is partly business-minded and partly patriotic.
It is July 4th weekend, after all, and with the boardwalk being home to annual Independence Day festivities, it only makes sense that the region’s most famous landmarks would also open their doors.
Ironically, most AC casinos likely don’t need to open – at least, not in the same way that Las Vegas casinos do.
Remember, all the gambling houses on the AC Strip have companion iPhone and Android casino apps – and sports betting apps – to serve homebound customers, all of which have seen marked upticks in interest since the nationwide lockdowns first went into effect in February/March.
In other words, because these venues each have an online component, they were still making money.
In Nevada, online casino gambling is not allowed by law, leaving bettors there – and in every other state except DE, NJ, and PA – relegated to gambling at legal online casinos and online sportsbooks operating offshore.
Of course, these sites are every bit as good – and in many ways better – than the Internet-based gaming that NJ has to offer, so that’s a “Class A Problem” for most avid US-based gamblers.
Nevertheless, AC’s casinos are again beating Vegas to the punch, opening up for shop as Nevada continues to shutter its own gambling enterprises in the wake of COVID-19 (and several summary lawsuits).
On Thursday morning, the five casinos to reopen in Atlantic City were the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, the Ocean Casino Resort, the Resorts Casino Hotel, the Tropicana, and the Golden Nugget.
On Friday, Caesars AC, Bally’s AC, and Harrah’s Resort AC will also open their doors to the public.
The sole holdout – and the most famous destination resort in the region – is MGM’s Borgata.
The Borgata is world renowned for its many top-class restaurants and bars, and because the reopening protocol initiated by NJ Governor Phil Murphy has barred eating and drinking inside casino venues, the Borgata has decided to wait until those activities are allowed before investing in the process to restart at reduced capacities.
Further aspects of the social distancing plans in place for NJ casinos are that gaming floors can only operate at 25% to 75% capacity, while smoking is also banned (despite research out of Italy suggesting that smokers are at a significantly reduced risk of contracting COVID-19).
While it’s important for players to have somewhere to socialize (even at a distance!), the main impetus for these reopenings was to get the casino and hospitality workforce in the region back in action.
Jim Allen, chairman of Hard Rock International and CEO of Seminole Gaming, explains:
“It feels great to be open. It’s unusual circumstances, be we’re just happy to be able to bring some people back to work. Certainly back in March when COVID really became an issue…we certainly went to a very limited staff, less than probably 200 people.”
The resort casino typically employs 3600 staff members, of which 2200 are now back to work.
“We wanted to get our employees back to work so they could have the opportunity to start putting a paycheck in their household, so for me there wasn’t a yield that we weren’t going to do that.”
Of course, for many gamblers, it’s still too risky to go to a brick-and-mortar casino in New Jersey or elsewhere, and traveling across states to do so is an even less attractive proposition.
For those living in NJ, domestic casino apps are the answer. For those living anywhere else in the US, offshore betting sites should be your go-tos.
After all, when you gamble online legally and safely, you can do so from literally anywhere with an Internet connection. All you need is an iPhone or Android, and you can enjoy real money mobile gambling from anywhere in the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave.
Those fireworks aren’t going to watch themselves!