Atlantic City Boardwalk has been closed for nearly nine weeks now – the longest closure ever in Atlantic City’s history – and the nine casinos there are all still shut due to the coronavirus.
The streets are very quiet, there is no traffic, it is very quiet and very eerie. An ex-employer at Caesars says he’s worked in the city’s casinos for around 40 years and has never seen the area so desolate.
Of the 26,000 people normally employed by the casino business it is estimated that more than 90% have been laid off according to the state’s Division of Gaming Enforcement.
The City has faced a number of setbacks over the years, but has never shut down for so long or with such potentially heavy consequences. The American Gaming Association anticipates that the closures are costing Atlantic City $540 million dollars a month and that long term recovery will take a year.
“Certainly, it’s the most unique time in my 40-plus-year career,” said Jim Allen, Chairman, Hard Rock International and CEO, Seminole Gaming. “It’s going to be a very, very slow and gradual process of coming back. I do think that the long-term recovery could be close to a year.”
But, according to Allen, safety has remained the top priority. “This is not about just making money; this is about being very cautious. We are dealing with human life here” Allen concluded.
As yet, Governor Murphy has given no news about a possible re-opening date, however the industry has been preparing for the future once the state does give the casinos the green light to open their doors.
As you would imagine however, the casinos are likely to look very different than people were used to. For instance if you are playing slots or tables you won’t sit next to someone you don’t know, employees will all be wearing masks, hand sanitiser and masks will be freely available. And the biggest change of all probably is that there will no longer be any casino crowds as the casinos will run probably run at between 20% & 50% capacity.
However this is the fifth time that casinos in Atlantic City have shut, and there is confidence that despite having been dealt another losing hand, the City will come back and come back stronger.
You can still play online casino games in New Jersey.