The second major wave of the pandemic is upon us. And the impact is being felt profoundly by NJ Casinos and the entire casino industry at large, which had just commenced its long road to recovery. As we head into the holiday season that’s characterized by the bitter cold, experts predict that the situation could worsen before it gets better.
Because of the mounting cases, 111 commercial and tribal brick and mortar casinos in the country have been closed temporarily. But many New Jersey and Pennsylvania casinos still remain operational but under stricter regulations to keep customers and staff members safe.
Casinos in the country have never experienced a disruption of epic proportions as it has with the pandemic. Over several months between March and June, almost all casinos remained closed off to the public as a result of government-sanctioned shutdowns that impacted casino staff severely.
Gaming casino workers, their families, and other small businesses that were relying on the casino industry to survive were all hit hard. However, states, as well as their communities are all really struggling as state budgets are all but decimated by the contagion.
In the 107 days that casinos were shut down, gambling parlors experienced operating losses of more than $112 million and an almost 50% reduction of its casino workforce. Through these 107 days, casino revenue plummeted 36.5%. Since the re-opening, revenue had started improving largely thanks to online and mobile sports betting. Plus, the return of live sports was a huge boost to the industry.
However, the little progress that had been made will now be reversed owing to the latest rounds of shutdowns and restrictions. Nevada and other states have already been forced to further slash their limited capacity and if things don’t improve, the country could be heading to another potential shutdown, which is the last thing anyone wants.
US casinos in dire need of assistance in the long road to recovery
It’s been a tough year for nearly all industries as a result of the pandemic. However, the hospitality and travel industry, which casinos and their resorts are a part of, has been so far the hardest hit. The simple fact is no one’s traveling, and the few people that are willing to take the risk are anxiety-filled and fear-stricken.
To add salt to injury, infection cases have surged all acorns the country, which means that things are about to become much worse. Much, much, worse unless we get a handle on the outbreak. Until then, the casino industry needs tax and regulatory relief from the government as it tries its best to curb the cases.
Although the majority of casinos across the country have reopened, they are still operating at limited capacity in a bid to slow down the spread. As the virus ravages New Jersey and the rest of the country, legislators might have no choice but to institute even stricter restrictions as the holidays fast approach.
Already, the New Jersey Governor has enforced tighter restrictions on indoor and outdoor gatherings. Under the new rules, indoor gathering events are limited to 10 individuals while outdoor events have a limit of 150 individuals. The governor also gave New Jersey states and counties power to regulate non-essential business hours after 8.pm. restaurants and bars can only operate between 10 and 5 am.
Although these measures are needed to keep the infection rates down, they spell more bad news for the already struggling physical casino industry. So as you can deduce, casinos in the country, alongside their workers need every boost they can get. In the months that casinos were shut off to the public, states lost millions in gambling tax revenue for every day that casino doors remained locked.
To put things into perspective, the commercial casino industry in the country generated an impressive $43.6 billion in 2019. As you can probably imagine, this figure will no doubt decline in 2020 as a result to pandemic-induced closures, the prevailing restrictions on casino occupancy, as well as the tentativeness of individuals to return to casino floors and their resorts.
All in all, the industry needs more pandemic relief funds until there is a clear sign that the pandemic is under control. Additionally, casinos need liability protections so that any businesses and operators that follow the mandated guidelines can be protected from individuals wanting to sue after contracting the disease. Tax relief is also needed to save the dwindling jobs while alleviating expenses.
But it’s not all bad news for NJ casinos AC as tax relief was finally approved. Not long ago, lawmakers in the state-approved an emergency relief bill for the city’s struggling casinos. As a result, the casino industry that’s still struggling under the weight of infections will receive temporary financial relief.
Consequently, the tax relief should go a long way in helping to bring employment levels back to pre-pandemic levels. Tax relief bills in other parts of the country are also required. Nevada and North Dakota both have bills supporting tax credits for the convention and trade show industries in the states.
The pandemic and its subsequent casino closures have reversed the consistent track of financial improvement that New Jersey has strived to attain in the last few years. The pandemic has set back the economy of the entire Garden State; the economy that’s reliant on casino jobs, tourism spending as well as the purchases generated at the city’s casinos.
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