Given the lockdown this year, it is no surprise to learn that many in the casino and gambling industry have faced big drops in sales. Atlantic City, of course, has been hit very hard indeed and despite reopening efforts, things are far from normal.
Gov. Phil Murphy discussed the reopening of casinos as far back as June, yet each time he has been dead set against the idea of poker rooms opening. Casinos have been reopening since early July, and now all casinos in the state are open. The resorts have implemented new restrictions on distancing and other safety measures.
Poker’s Durability in the Face of Lockdown
Poker rooms throughout Atlantic City are always popular with players, but the bulk of poker in New Jersey is played online. For this reason, online gambling has resisted the economic woes of brick and mortar establishments.
Even when compared with online sports betting, poker has done better owing to the lack of sports taking place beyond the UFC. Poker tournaments have moved online and that has certainly helped players in New Jersey to continue their gambling fun.
New Jersey has led the way with this change. Last month, we covered last month the announcement that West Virginia would follow suit and approve online poker.
Reopening of Casinos Not Enough; Demand For Tournaments to Return
Although those in the online poker trade will be happy to continue offering online services, there is a much greater need for New Jersey to again open poker rooms. The groundswell of support in recent weeks for moving tournaments to New Jersey is due to the fact that the state and Atlantic City desperately need tourism figures to rise.
Much state income has been lost due to empty hotel rooms and casino floors. Bringing back poker tournaments will at least offer some temporary respite and a chance to get money coming back into the economy.
Given the recent news that MGM will take away nearly 3000 jobs from The Borgata, the thinking is that encouraging poker tournaments such as the World Series of Poker can bring jobs back in short order.
Taking The Lead From Nevada
It is no secret that Atlantic City greatly desires to become competitive with Las Vegas, which has already taken steps to bring live poker back to rooms. The reopening of casinos in Vegas has taken into account new restrictions and has been doing well since the changes were announced.
Initially, the restrictions were that poker tables could have no more than four players, a rule which was quickly amended. The reason for the change was that casinos showed competence in creating larger tables that could safely accommodate 6 with distancing. Some casinos are also exploring the option of using plexiglass screens for added safety.
Currently, casinos such as the Bellagio are hosting 20 tables per night in its poker room. This is certainly a model New Jersey casinos and state legislators alike should investigate.
New Jersey’s Draw
The online figures New Jersey has been racking up since lockdown are mightily impressive. We published the story last month showing that over the summer months New Jersey blew Pennsylvania out of the water with regards to online poker revenue. We also looked into exactly why online poker has done so well in the state.
Naturally, some resorts in Atlantic City have done well from these apps. Many of the casinos have partners that offer online poker whilst the casino rooms were closed. The likes of PartyCasino for instance, which we reviewed here, is The Borgata’s online portal for offering casino games.
Even so, there is much more money to be made with bums on seats than thumbs on apps and that is why we are seeing such a push for poker rooms to open.
The reopening of casinos has been carried out well and all resorts have been impeccable in their respect for the new rules and measures in place. The onus is now on the state government to trust that poker rooms, too, can reopen under new restrictions to kickstart the local economy.