New Jersey was all over in the news during the early months of 2020 when Covid-19 had just entered the United States. This was one of the gravely affected regions of the US based on the number of fatalities and pandemic spread. In the recent weeks, there has been a wave of hope spreading all over the state as positive Covid-19 tests significantly reduce.
Apart from the fact that life can now go back to normal, people are relieved that their businesses will return to regular operating hours. In line with that, the Governor already lifted the strict ban on eating places and restaurants. As opposed to the earlier directive that kept away patrons completely, the new directive allows for up to 35% patronage to be hosted at a time.
In his briefing, Gov. Phil Murphy made changes to the earlier issued directive to now accommodate 10% more capacity from the earlier 25%. This directive, which took place immediately, applies to businesses that run recreational, entertainment, beverage and food related services. In his previous order, the governor had restricted in-person services in the affected businesses between 10:00PM and 5:00AM
It is important to note that since casinos fall under the categories of business cited by Murphy, they too can resume operations in line with the directives. The new directive will allow partial lifting of Covid-19 restrictions up to 10PM.
Curbing the spread of Covid-19 in the night
The new Covid-19 directives have brought a level of freedom for casino visitors in Atlantic City. Especially for the high-dollar gamblers who in most cases do not have regard for their expenditure, the casinos are back to serving them what they want. Extended operating hours for Atlantic City casinos means that there will be no limit to the amount of food and drink served at casinos.
The casino investors, this moves comes after many months of businesses struggling to stay afloat amid a pandemic. The hardest hits were operators who only relied on physical presence of patrons and had no means of earning online revenues. With a new gambling license, players are flocking to New Jersey for the Vegas experience and that is what casinos are capitalizing on.
This excitement to resume is not just on operators alone – players too are eager to indulge in luxury meals as they try their luck at the tables. While it makes sense to eat till dawn, drinking is still prohibited. The argument is that intoxication is likely to cloud judgment leading to reckless social interactions that could in turn fan the pandemic flames. As long as the authorities are convinced that you are in a group of adults of the same family, people will be allowed to go out in their own safe bubbles for a night of poker.
Governor Murphy in his recent statement mentioned that his administration had based Covid-19 related decisions made in the state on facts, science and data surrounding the pandemic. He has attributed the drop in Covid-19 cases to residents’ cooperation in following directives. The direct effect of managing the pandemic is now gradual steps in re-opening the economy.
As of now, the Governor and his team are confident that opening up sections in the economy will not burden the health care system in New Jersey.
Covid-19 restrictions across various industries
In addition to businesses that offer meals and entertainment in various forms, beauty-based business might also benefit from the new directives. For nail salons and other businesses that deal in direct beauty enhancement, the capacity will be increased to 35%. Some casinos offer such services as well so opening up the entire industry will reduce congestion in stations where customers wait their turn.
The emphasis on safe social interaction during this pandemic period remains masking up and maintaining social distance. Addiction groups like AA and Gamblers Anonymous will also be allowed to increased capacity up to 35% or 150 people if the platform is large enough.
Long awaited news for AC casinos
Atlantic City has a total of 9 land-based casinos which had been seriously affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. All of them faced a sharp decline in revenue for 2020 compare to what they had collected in 2019. Actual accounts indicate that that collective decline was recorded to be 43.7% achieved for a period of 3 months from April to June.
It was inevitable for casino business to make losses during this period since the season did not favor them. The first months of the pandemic were characterized by panic and most businesses remained closed. The rest of the year was marked by pandemic-related restrictions that did little to support casino operations.
For businesses that were able to introduce an online gambling operation at the time when the pandemic raged strongly, the financial impact was not as heavy. The only downside to depending on this single revenue stream is that many casinos did not keep much as the profits were shared between various site administrators.
In addition to super events sporting events like the just concluded Super Bowl, casinos all over New Jersey have benefitted from big days like Valentines and Presidents day. The next event which will enjoy mass participation in casinos is the NCAA men’s basketball that is responsible for March Madness – the last one was cancelled due to the pandemic. April will also see 3 major events happening including the major league of basketball.
As the pangs of Covid-19 continue to loosen, it is becoming possible for businesses to operate as normal. Eventually, casinos will not only be able to easy cater to outdoor dining demands but also to an increase in indoor gaming and dining capacities.
The casinos in Atlantic City have been trying out other business models to keep afloat after Covid-19 led to a ban in indoor dining activity. This directive has been lifted and for the first time in close to a year, patrons will be stepping into their favorite spots to grab a meal. Fortunately this state of affairs is in the hands of the customers – play by the rules and keep at it or flaunt them and go back to strict restrictions.