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The Atlantic City casino industry has been shut down since mid-March, but there is light at the end of the tunnel after New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy announced that the state’s gaming venues would be allowed to reopen on July 2.
Murphy tweeted the announcement and in another tweet stated, “Additional health and safety guidance will be released within the next several days.”
The reopening of Atlantic City casinos coincides with relaxed measures on restaurants and bars, with indoor dining also permitted from July 2.
In April, May, and June of 2019, the land-based casinos in Atlantic City had revenue of $655 million, with online casino gambling and sports betting accounting for $159 million of that amount. For the same period in 2020, land-based gaming revenue will be $0 with the casinos shut down from March 16 until the start of July. With so many sporting leagues out of action during that timeframe, sports betting figures will also take a big hit.
The main source of revenue for the New Jersey casino industry from April to June came from online gambling, which is posting record numbers in 2020. Online casino revenue for April, May, and June of 2019 came in at $53 million, while in April and May of this year the monthly total was more $80 million.
Before the pandemic hit, the New Jersey casino industry was setting monthly revenue records. However, with the casinos being shut down since March, the overall revenue for the first five months of this year is down nearly 30% from the same time period last year.
On Monday, New Jersey Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver pointed to the human toll of the lockdown, stating that Atlantic County now has “the highest unemployment rate in the state”. That rate is 33.3%, which rises to 43.3% in Atlantic City. That is the highest unemployment rate of any New Jersey municipality, while the second, third and fourth places on that list are also in Atlantic County.
Oliver went onto say, “Atlantic City as a region must strengthen and expand the diversity of its economic base to better weather economic downturns and crises such as this one.”
All of the counties in the Garden State will start to get back on their feet soon, as such businesses as salons, barber shops, and hair salons were allowed to reopen on June 22. Shopping malls have been given the green light to open next week.
Gov. Murphy has warned that there could be a resurgence of COVID-19 if people do not take distancing and hygiene precautions seriously. If there is another resurgence in the virus, the aforementioned businesses would likely shut down again.
In March and April, some 13,000 people died in New Jersey due to the coronavirus outbreak. However, in a positive trend, Murphy said state hospitalizations are down 93% since the pandemic peak.