Casinos in Louisiana and Mississippi are opening this week, and enthusiastic gamblers are willing to wait in line after traveling long distances, according to a report from The Wall Street Journal. One person even drove from all the way from Houston with her family for the casino reopenings.
Louisiana casinos around Lake Charles and Shreveport, as well as the casinos around Baton Rouge and New Orleans were able to reopen again beginning on May 18. Unfortunately, Harrah’s New Orleans, must stay closed due to a mandate from Mayor LaToya Cantrell. The mayor placed more stringent requirements since New Orleans had a high fatality rate due to the coronavirus.
Around 60 eager gamblers waited outside of L’Auberge in Baton Rogue, and 95 waited for the doors to open at Shreveport’s Margaritaville. Visitors cooperated with the mandatory temperature checks and social distancing rules.
Deadwood Welcomes High Rollers
Out west in Deadwood, South Dakota, 13 of the 21 casinos have reopened, similar to Louisiana. Mayor David R. Ruth, Jr., who doubles as a table games manager at one of the local Hotel casinos, said he has encountered visitors traveling from nearby states as well as those from faraway states like New York, Texas, Florida, and New Mexico.
While eager gamblers flocked to casinos in open states, people in states that remain closed, such as New Jersey, are making do with online casino gaming sites. New Jersey’s big bet on online gambling has paid off, with last month’s revenues reaching a record-breaking high of $80 million. However, sports betting revenues, for the most part, were down significantly as stadiums shut down and almost all professional sports leagues postponed their seasons due to the coronavirus pandemic.
New Jersey Not Ready to Reopen Casinos unlike Louisiana
While he’s slowly allowing some businesses to reopen in New Jersey, Governor Phil Murphy said recently he still doesn’t have a date for when the nine casinos in Atlantic City will be allowed to reopen. When asked whether it will be weeks or months to reopen the casinos, Murphy said, “I don’t want to marry myself. I hope it’s that.”
The Casino Association of New Jersey has been working with the AtliCare health system to develop a safe casino reopening plan, including sanitization and social-distancing guidelines. Governor Murphy remarked that he hasn’t seen that proposal yet, although he emphasized state officials are considering the best way to move forward to reopen casinos.
During a recent daily coronavirus briefing, Murphy observed that, “Casinos are a tough nut. It’s unbelievably important, but it’s something we’ve got to get right.”
Technically, the hotels were allowed to remain open under the restrictions mandated by Governor Murphy. However, most casino hotels completely closed when Murphy ordered the casinos closed on March 16. The governor has not indicated when he plans to lift the restrictions. The good news is, Some Atlantic City casinos are accepting hotel reservations for the summer beach season. However, there are no plans to reopen the gambling floors. The hotels have plans to keep visitors safe, including more cleaning and contactless check-in.
Online Gaming Offsets Losses
Every state has faced crashing casino revenue and a significant decline in sports betting. On the bright side, overall, earnings from online sports betting and casino games increased. New Jersey ordered every casino in the state closed on March 16. While revenue for the state’s retail casinos dropped a staggering 61.7% in March compared to the same month the previous year, the state’s online gaming revenue over the same period jumped by an impressive 65.7%.
Pennsylvania reported similar figures, with tax revenues from retail casinos dropping to $50.5 million in March compared to $67.5 million in March of last year. The Keystone State made up some of that lost revenue by earning $24.3 million from online gambling since last summer.
While U.S. online gambling websites take advantage of online payment methods, these must be licensed on a state-by-state basis. Moreover, online transactions are subject to local regulations. Due to this, the popularity of online gaming, as opposed to brick-and-mortar casinos, will vary by region. It is worth noting that neither Louisiana nor Mississippi allow for online gambling which shows what casinos in those states were more eager to reopen despite the potential setback when it comes to infecting more patrons with Covid-19.