Unfortunately, Atlantic City’s casinos should not expect a surge of customers when they finally reopen. Based on an informal poll of more than 100 slot machines and table game players, it appears that only about 10% plan to return to the casinos right away. Most of the others are feeling a bit more cautious.
Many are proceeding with caution.
“I’m ready to go back to the casinos, but I want to wait a few weeks after they re-open so I can see whether it’s safe,” one person said. “But I’m more concerned about airlines and cruise ships than casinos.”
“Depending on what promotions the casinos are offering, I’ll definitely go to pick up free play, gifts, and use my comps,” said another. “I don’t think they’ll be very busy.”
“I’ll just be playing at night during the week, when the casinos are mostly empty,” another said.
Some gamblers fear an infection.
A few people also thought returning to the casinos is a “safety issue.” Social distancing is very hard to work out in casinos.
Another person pointed out that alcohol and coronavirus don’t mix. “How many times have you had a drunk gambler come up to you, invading your personal space, either on purpose or by mistake?”
Other gamblers were even more skeptical. One said, “I think I’ll find a different way to keep myself entertained for the next few months, like playing with online casinos. I’m afraid to just head back into the casinos until I’m sure it’s safe.”
Another respondent was more specific, “Until it’s proven otherwise, I think cards and chips could be transmission vectors. They get handled by way too many people. I’m going to avoid table games.”
A slot player added, “I need to know if they’ll be shutting down every other slot machine for social distancing. I also want to know if my favorite machines are up and running.”
According to many people, it’s also an economic issue.
Several gamblers expressed the point of view that it’s the money. One said, “To be quite honest, I’m unsure how I feel. I used to go to Atlantic City almost every weekend. I miss the people more than gambling, and a lot of them have lost their jobs. The longer people stay away, the harder it will be to draw those people back.”
“A lot of people have lost jobs or been given pay cuts,” one person observed. “Where are the discretionary funds to go gambling going to come from? Even people who have a little extra money are not going to spend it, there is too much uncertainty about what the future right now.”
Other gamblers were worried about their tier status on their player loyalty programs and their accumulated slot dollars, cashback, and comps. One remarked, “Before I go back I want to know that my casino’s plan for the year is to pro-rating point levels.”
Likewise, life has significantly slowed down for a lot of people.
One former Atlantic City gambler said, “I’ve started to take the time to stop and smell the flowers and think about what’s really important in life,” someone said. “All of a sudden, spending my time in a casino playing penny slot machines with an 85% return doesn’t seem like such a good pastime. Especially if I consider that by doing so, I could possibly lose my life.”
Finally, two gamblers even said that their gambling days were over.
At this point, the road back to recovery for the Atlantic City casinos appears to be slow and hard. Hopefully, as the weeks wear on, visitors will see that their favorite casinos, restaurants, and shops in Atlantic City are perfectly safe. Life must return to normal, and the sooner the better.