The coronavirus pandemic has seen the shuttering of brick-and-mortar casinos worldwide, including right here in America.
But while Vegas casinos are closing back down for another year to address an alleged “second wave” and are seeing class action lawsuits from workers who claimed the sites all opened back up prematurely, Atlantic City is moving full speed ahead with its own reopening plans.
Today is the first day in over three months that AC’s casinos will be operational at their physical locations.
While these venues have been able to take advantage of NJ’s online gambling laws to provide customers with app experiences while sheltering at home, the city and state have determined that it’s time to get the economy going again.
On Thursday – just a day before the Fourth of July weekend – five of Atlantic City’s nine casinos are opening their doors to the public. These include the following:
- Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City
- Ocean Casino Resort
- Resorts Casino Hotel
- Tropicana Atlantic City
- Golden Nugget Atlantic City
On Friday morning, three more AC casinos will open for business:
- Caesars Atlantic City
- Bally’s Atlantic City
- Harrah’s Resort Atlantic City
Only the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa will keep its doors closed for the foreseeable future.
Borgata is owned and operated by MGM Resorts International, and the company seems to be taking a more conservative approach. For many, the Borgata is the premier AC casino destination, which may be a blow for some patrons eager to get back into the swing of things.
Interestingly, the decision to delay the reopening of the Borgata has nothing to do with the risks of COVID-19 on the gaming floors themselves. After all, every AC casino that is reopening is instituting strict social distancing protocols, mask mandates, and bans on smoking, eating, and drinking at the venues.
These last two limitations were actually the deal-breakers for the Borgata, which is renowned for its world-class restaurants and bars.
Per a press release from MGM on why the venue is bowing out of the current reopening plan:
“We respect the Governor’s decision to postpone the reopening of indoor dining in New Jersey to protect the public. Given this decision, our property…will remain closed. Our guests expect a special experience when they come to our property and if we cannot provide that level of hospitality, we feel it best that we remain closed until such time that the Governor lets us know it is safe to offer food and beverage. … We look forward to a time when it is safe to welcome everyone back.”
When that time will be is anyone’s guess.
Still, it’s hard to fault MGM here. A casino without food and drink service isn’t going to offer a compelling experience for most bettors, especially in a state that allows full online casino gambling.
Indeed, no visitors to the state – despite there being limited travel already due to the coronavirus scare – are going to risk making the trip just to sit in a building to play the same games they can play online when they won’t be able to take advantage of any of the added amenities (i.e. comped drinks, restaurant vouchers, etc.) that brick-and-mortar facilities typically offer.
And because out-of-state guests have the option to stay home and gamble online at offshore legitimate casinos, the impetus for the Borgata to open is even less significant that it would otherwise be in these trying times.
Indeed, given the state of things in the current social and political landscape, it’s probably best to stay home even if your favorite AC casino has reopened. You can already play domestic casino games online if you live in New Jersey, and nearby visitors can play at the aforementioned offshore sites.
When you gamble online, you won’t risk catching COVID-19, you won’t risk running into a traffic-suffocating protest or destructive riot, and you won’t risk being diminished for celebrating your country’s most important holiday.