This year’s pandemic has been a dramatic and radical game-changer for casinos and cardrooms all over the world- Atlantic City is no different. As one of the most highly frequented and best-reviewed casinos as we’ve discussed here, Borgata’s recent struggles have been a big blow to the betting industry in New Jersey.
Now, AC’s top casino plans to lay off more employees and cut the hours of more staffers thanks to the strict new indoor limits that were recently imposed by Gov. Phil Murphy. The rate of infection, as well as the number of cases, climbed higher in the state and country in general over the last month forcing Gov. Phil Murphy to impose even stricter indoor dining limits than before.
Borgata reportedly sent letters to its staff members notifying them of the changes. The casino brand plans to lay off a total of 73 staff members while reducing the hours of 349 others. Borgata remains unclear as to how long these modified staffing levels will last. However, Borgata Casino has declared that it will bring back furloughed staff members once the order is lifted and the pandemic cases begin to drop once again.
As you may already probably know, the outbreak is spread via respiratory droplets that are released during conversations, coughs, and sneezes with infected individuals. The disease can also easily be passed on from contaminated surfaces causing infection.
What’s worse is that there is no way to tell when an individual is infected until they start exhibiting symptoms. Some people don’t even show any symptoms at all, making the disease even scarier than it already is. The good news is that casinos and gaming operations in Atlantic City have done a great job trying to keep guests and customers safe.
Many casinos including Borgata have implemented several strategies designed to reduce the spread among customers and staff. As such, casinos today are open but they observe limitations to permit social distancing. Activities within the casinos themselves are limited to gaming machines and equipment that does not need a dealer and can be used by a single individual at a go before being disinfected between uses.
And even though the casinos could only operate at 25% dining capacity, the Atlantic City market was well on its way to recuperate, until the pandemic numbers started to surge again, thus threatening the second wave of infections.
Based on the newest dining limits imposed recently by the Governor, casinos will now have to close all their restaurants every night by 10 pm. They must also stop serving beverages on the casino floor which will remain operational around the clock. Casinos can offer in-room dining all day on weekends as well as from 4 pm to midnight every weekday.
Casino recovery threatened by the second wave of disease
Although casinos such as Borgata haven’t quite recovered yet, a second wave of the disease could once more shutter the casino industry. Analysts and shareholders have expressed concerns regarding the further financial impact on the industry, which has already been forced to grapple with closures and revenue losses month over month.
Today, Atlantic City casinos remain open but restaurants and casinos are unable to serve food or beverages indoor between the hours of 9 pm and 5 am. Casino operators have finally realized that the concerns involving the highly infectious disease are here to stay for the foreseeable future. If casino operators are unable to think on their feet and outside the box for innovative operations solutions moving forward, they will continue to feel the pinch.
Atlantic City gaming revenue has been on a positive path but land-based casinos have continued to struggle month after month. Case in point, AC casino gaming tables faced a challenging month in September, at a period in which live poker rooms were preparing to make their comeback as covered here.
The city’s 9 casinos generated combined slot and table revenue of $190m in September, a 15% drop from September 2019 and $9m lower than August 2020’s aggregate. The decline can largely be attributed to gaming tables, which have as of yet remained closed due to constraints resulting from the virus. Slots were also down 9.6% at $144m.
Despite the recent round of layoffs, Borgata Casino AC maintained its conventional spot on top of the slots and table charts in September with an impressive $39.7m. With Borgata’s live poker room now back in business, the numbers should improve for Borgata in the next coming months. Borgata’s live poker room will contain a cautious 30 tables, which is less than half its usual capacity.
Players will also have to be masked and separated by Plexiglas barriers to keep them protected. As of now, only cash games will be offered but punters should expect tournaments to follow shortly after depending on whether the state can curtail the growing infection rates.
The good news is that New Jersey’s online casino and sports betting operators helped to counterbalance things generating a combined revenue of over $100m in September. The sports wagering and online gaming numbers have helped to considerably make up for the decline in the revenue of the city’s 9 physical casinos.
In October, sports punters gambled an impressive $803M from wagers placed at brick and mortar casinos, online gambling sites, and AC’s 3 vibrant racetracks. Sports betting got the boost it needed from the recently concluded MLB World Series as well as the NBA finals which were both held during the same month. The NFL and NCAA college football also resumed in October, thus contributing to the impressive monthly handle.
Even as casino operators such as Borgata do their best to survive the pandemic, things are looking bleak. It could be quite sometime before AC casinos start recording the revenue numbers that they had become accustomed to pre-pandemic. It is expected that these operators will likely continue furloughing its workforce as long as the contagion persists.
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