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New Jersey governor Phil Murphy held a press conference earlier this week in which he announced that all land-based casinos in Atlantic City would be shut down as of 8pm Monday, March 16 due to coronavirus concerns.
The order extends well beyond the New Jersey gambling industry, as movie theaters, gyms, bars, and restaurants also closed Monday night. Restaurants can still offer delivery service and takeout orders but cannot have sit-down service. The Garden State also imposed an 8pm to 5am curfew.
New York governor Andrew Cuomo made a similar announcement, with the three upstate casinos of Resorts World Catskills, Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods all closing their doors at the same time as their New Jersey rivals.
In Pennsylvania, the Valley Forge Resort Casino shut its doors last Friday and soon after Harrah’s Philadelphia and the Rivers Casinos in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh did the same. This was the case even though in the western part of the state has not had as many cases of coronavirus as the eastern part of the state.
A Rivers Casino official stated, “Although there have been no known cases of COVID-19 at the property, we are suspending operations out of an abundance of caution and to promote the social distancing recommended by health officials.”
Parx Casino, which is located near Philadelphia, and Bethlehem’s Wind Creek Casino also shut their doors. A majority of the closed casinos said that they will remain out of action for “two weeks”, but nobody knows for sure the exact timetable.
There have also been mandated land-based casino closures in Ohio, Illinois, and Rhode Island. On Monday, the Las Vegas MGM Casino and Wynn casinos also closed.
Michigan shut down its casinos on Sunday evening, while Alabama, California, Massachusetts, and Indiana have also closed their gambling venues. More states are expected to follow suit this week.
Last week the racing cards were canceled for both the Meadowlands Racetrack and Freehold Raceway. There has been no announcement for each as to when races will resume.
Yonkers Raceway also closed its doors for an indefinite period of time. This came after the first person who died from the coronavirus was revealed to be a New Jersey resident and horse trainer affiliated with Yonkers Raceway. Aqueduct Raceway has continued to hold races behind closed doors.
The second coronavirus fatality was a woman from Freehold, New Jersey, whose family attended a party with the first fatality. Other members of that party have tested positive for the coronavirus.
The racing season for New Jersey’s Monmouth Park does not start until May 2. It remains to be seen if the ban on public gatherings of more than 50 people will still be in place at that time.
The only two states in the US that have not declared a public health emergency are Oklahoma and Maine.
Pennsylvania and New Jersey are two of only a few states that offer online gambling. Pennsylvania has already seen an increase in its online gambling.