Atlantic City Casinos Reopen, But With Serious Restrictions

Posted By Derek Helling on July 3, 2020

Many businesses around the country are grappling with trying to sell their products and services amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Atlantic City casinos are now part of that group.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy authorized casinos to reopen on Thursday. Most have taken advantage of the opportunity, but things are far from back to normal on the properties.

Atlantic City casinos reopening their doors

Ocean, Hard Rock, and Resorts were among those that planned to reopen at the first opportunity on Thursday. Among the restrictions levied upon all operators by Murphy were:

  • The capacity of 25% of fire code
  • Contact tracing protocols
  • Daily temperature screenings for employees and guests
  • Enhanced cleaning procedures
  • Mandatory wearing of face masks for employees and guests

Some operators intended to go above and beyond those mandatory protections, however. For example, Hard Rock said it would install plexiglass barriers at close gaming positions.

Not all of AC’s casinos felt ready to go Thursday morning, however. Borgata originally delayed its reopening until Monday, July 6. Borgata also announced that Monday would be an invitation-only “soft” reopening.

Like many other aspects of business during the pandemic, those best-laid plans quickly went awry. Another announcement by Murphy threw a monkey wrench into the situation.

Murphy’s mid-week reversal

In his original announcement, Murphy authorized casinos to resume indoor dining with a limit of 25% of fire code capacity. Then on Wednesday, Murphy reversed that decision.

Borgata nearly instantaneously reversed course on its soft opening as well. So far, the casino has not made any further announcements about a new date for that trial run.

Other casinos stuck with their plans to reopen on Thursday. They were unable to serve alcohol or food in any enclosed spaces, however, including the gaming floors.

Casino dining operations are still free to deliver beverages and food to hotel residents in their rooms along with selling food on a takeout basis. Regardless, some AC operators may continue to not find it worthwhile to open again without being able to offer indoor dining.

Murphy cited a spike in hospitalizations and positive COVID-19 tests as logic for his reversal.

While some Atlantic City casinos are again welcoming gamblers on a limited basis, that isn’t yet a uniform situation. The circumstances could also change at any time.

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Derek Helling

Derek Helling is a freelance journalist who resides in Kansas City, Mo. He is a 2013 graduate of the University of Iowa and covers the intersections of sports with business and the law.

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