When will Atlantic City casinos reopen? As casinos in Nevada and across the country begin to reopen after months of coronavirus shutdowns, Atlantic City’s casinos continue to wait for Governor Phil Murphy’s approval to reopen and welcome back their guests.
Besides the ever-present question of when will Atlantic City casinos reopen, there are lingering questions about what Atlantic City casinos will look like when they finally are allowed to reopen. However, the picture of what it will look like when Atlantic City casinos reopen is beginning to be clear.
Changes When Atlantic City Casinos Reopen
Resorts Casino Hotel recently released its “Work Safe, Play Safe” plan, outline some of the changes workers and visitors can expect upon returning. At the top of the list, is the installation of cutting-edge technology, including disinfecting high-traffic areas with ultraviolet light and a bipolar ionization system to purify indoor air. Likewise, Resorts will adhere to established public health protocols when its Atlantic City casinos reopen. These are just a few of the steps Resorts is taking to ensure the “safety and well-being” of everyone, said Resorts CEO and President Mark Giannantonio.
“We are excited about being among the safest destinations in Atlantic City upon reopening,” Giannantonio said in a statement. “We want our guests to enjoy the warm and friendly experience that has always been at the top of our core values.”
Other States Reopen Casinos
A look inside Las Vegas and Connecticut casinos, among others, also offers a glimpse of what it might look like when Atlantic City casinos reopen. However, specific industry-wide plans are still being hashed out among casino companies, state gaming regulators as well as hospitality unions.
The New Jersey Attorney General’s Office, the Division of Gaming Enforcement, Unite Here Local 54 and AtlantiCare have been working on a plan for best practices when the nine Atlantic City casinos reopen. Once finalized, the plan will be submitted to the Governor’s Office for review. Reopening plans for each of the nine Atlantic City properties are to be submitted to state gaming regulators.
No Set Date for When Atlantic City Casinos Reopen
Governor Phil Murphy has stated he would like to see the nine Atlantic City casinos reopen by July 4. However, the governor has not set any firm dates or formal proclamations. On March 16, Murphy ordered the casinos closed to contain the spread of COVID-19.
Steve Callender, senior vice president of Eastern regional operations for Tropicana Atlantic City’s parent company, Eldorado Resorts, and the president of the Casino Association of New Jersey said the casino hotels in Atlantic City need around 14 days’ advance notice before they’re ready to reopen.
What Casinos Elsewhere in the US are Doing
A few parent companies of Atlantic City casinos have already reopened in other jurisdictions. The protocols in other jurisdictions give some indication of what to expect when Atlantic City casinos reopen.
Buffets, bars, live entertainment, and valet parking were not included in Caesars Entertainment’s reopening in Las Vegas. Masks are required for casino workers, who are also tested for COVID-19. Guests are encouraged, but not required, to wear face coverings.
CDC recommendations for social distancing also apply, and Caesars has increased cleaning at every one of its casinos across the country. Temperature screenings for both guests and workers, gaming table capacity limits, plastic shields, and fewer slot machines are also in place.
However, New Jersey COVID-19 casino protocols are likely to be different since the Northeast was harder hit by the novel coronavirus. When Atlantic City casinos reopen, the restrictions are likely to be more strict.
“Every gaming market is different, and we can fine-tune our protocols for Atlantic City casinos versus what works in other jurisdictions,” commented Terry Glebocki, CEO of Ocean Casino Resort.
If Atlantic City casinos reopen with the right protocols, they will use what works in other jurisdictions incorporating the protocols that work best.
David Schwartz, associate vice provost at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas and former director of the university’s Center for Gaming Research, observed that Atlantic City properties could use their reopening as a good opportunity to reintroduce themselves to their guests.
“In Las Vegas, that’s meant casinos giving up paid parking and some have removed their resort fees,” said Schwartz. “When Atlantic City casinos reopen, they can use the opportunity to do the same. Atlantic City should also capitalize on the continued travel restrictions. There are a lot of people within driving distance to Atlantic City that may not want to fly right now. If they like what they see when they drive to an Atlantic City casino, they’ll keep coming back.”
Many Hands are Involved in Reopening Atlantic City’s Casinos
New Jersey state regulatory guidelines will set most of the protocols for when Atlantic City casinos reopen, but individual operators and properties will need to work within those parameters when putting their own health and safety measures in place.
After months of planning, Atlantic City casino operators believe that they are prepared to safely and responsibly welcome back guests back to their properties.
“Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Atlantic City is very confident and comfortable that we will have responsible protocols in place to safeguard both our workers and guests,” said Joe Lupo, Atlantic City property president. “The new standards will provide a fun, clean, and comfortable experience. We’re hopeful it will provide visitors with an exciting summer here on the Atlantic City Boardwalk at the Jersey Shore.”
Glebocki further stated that, communication and reassurance are key for when Atlantic City casinos reopen, since both employees and guests need to feel safe when they return. She indicated that once the state-wide plan is approved, Ocean Resorts will reveal its own sanitation and health protocols, most of which will adhere closely to CDC guidelines.
“Everyone has been existing in this COVID-19 world for close to three months now,” she said. “We are now accustomed to it and have adapted to the “new normal” where social distancing and masks are common in public spaces. That will make it easier for guests when Atlantic City casinos reopen, and our guests return to Ocean Casino Resort.”