As the end of the year quickly approaches, the New Jersey casino industry is doing well. However, it is still reeling from the financial strain of the pandemic. As a result, many operators and casinos in the city have been forced to scale down their staff, as properties across the Garden State continue operating at reduced capacity.
According to data provided by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement, the 9 casinos in the city collectively hired 22,220 in October 2020, which effectively brought unemployment rates in the state down.
Borgata, which is by far the biggest revenue generator and employer in AC, even welcomed back some of its staff, 348 to be specific which brings their staff total to 3,630. The Golden Nugget, so far, has the fewest staff members at 1,566.
Despite the lower unemployment rates, it is worth noting that casinos are now hiring fewer people because of the recent spike in pandemic cases. And with indoor dining and beverage service at casinos suspended nightly between 10 pm and 5 am, this situation is not likely to change any time soon.
Casino employment down all across the country amid a pandemic
Casino operators all over the country are struggling to keep up as discussed here, which has resulted in massive layoffs. The good news is that casinos in New Jersey, as well as Pennsylvania, are still open and are likely to remain that way having shown incredible resilience during the recent spike in infections. Sadly, things in Vegas and other parts of the country are not looking good.
On the strip, the number of layoffs has never been higher with more than 1,11o staff at the Tropicana and 2 live entertainment venues at MGM Grand and Park MGM Grand being let go. MGM Resorts, in particular, has been forced to lay off thousands of its workforce this year as covered here. So far, MGM has suffered losses worth $535 million.
In response to the dwindling occupancy rates, MGM Resorts recently announced that it would cease midweek operations for its hotel in other parts of the country including Park MGM Las Vegas, the Mirage, and Mandalay Bay resorts. Since the pandemic struck, MGM has suffered losses worth $535 million.
Similarly, Wynn Resorts also announced that its Encore Hotel would cut down operations to 4 days, running from Thursday through Sunday in a bid to cut down costs. The great news is that operators in New Jersey are doing their best to keep their best above water, which appears to be harder for these other states.
New York City, is another region that’s been hard hit by the contagion. To this day, more than 50% of Manhattan’s hotels remain closed off to the public. These widespread temporary shutdowns and permanent job losses have placed recovery at risk.
To worsen matters, the increased acceleration of infections in the pandemic could likely result in the widespread re-closure of casinos in the country. Unfortunately, with the resurgence of the pandemic in many states, an upcoming busy holiday season, the casino industry in the country lacks clarity as to what the future holds.
For the time being, it makes a lot more sense to hold off on any new hires while making necessary job cuts. Until things start to improve, furloughs are now becoming layoffs as companies assume cost-cutting mode. As business conditions improve, the plan is for operators to bring back employees
But these temporary, tighter, newer, restrictions on the gaming properties and restaurants across the state may be helping to curb the spread but it could spell doom for casino workers. The light at the end of the tunnel is the new vaccines that have proved effective. Once the vaccines are made widely accessible, the demand for brick mortar casinos services should soar through the roof, which could signal the remarkable comeback that the industry has been waiting for.
Could spike threaten second rounds of closures? Hopefully not. Atlantic City’s casinos have been toiling to make up for the millions of revenues that they’ve so far lost but the surge in infections could cause the governor to enforce the second round of closures. Of course, this should be the last resort.
As things are, 111 commercial and tribal brick and mortar casinos all over the state have been closed temporarily owing to the pandemic. In total, the country has almost 1000 physical casino properties but they haven’t been able to all be in business since the retail casino shut down earlier on in the year.
As such, if the surge in infection cases triggers another shutdown, the effects could be more disturbing than they have been and possibly even irreparable. But there has been a silver lining, in the form of iGaming and legal sports betting, which are the 2 verticals that have helped the industry survive. As long as both online gaming and sports betting keep thriving in the country, then the industry and its employees should be able to weather the storm.
With pandemic cases at an all-time high and as winter sets in all over the country, casino operators and associated businesses have a hard time attempting to keep operations open and the virus in check. Failure in curbing the infection rates could result in even further permanent job losses and an even slower financial recovery for the industry.
With the right guidelines and protocols, though, there is still a chance for casino businesses to function safely while keeping the economy thriving. But only if the recommended guidelines are followed by all.
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