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New Jersey is still under an indefinite stay-at-home order and the casinos in Atlantic City remain closed for business. The pandemic and the casino closures have been a huge hit for the New Jersey gambling industry. While the online casinos in the Garden State have had increased revenue, it has not been nearly enough to compensate for the lack of activity at land-based casinos.
Before the closures, the Atlantic City casinos had 21 straight months of revenue growth. In March of this year, the first month of the lockdown, those casinos saw a drop in revenue of 47% from March 2019. While the brick-and-mortar casinos took a hit being closed mid-month, online gambling revenue had a 65% year-on-year increase in March.
David Schwartz, a gambling historian at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, said the decline in revenue was expected. He stated, “While there will be some revenue coming in from online sources, the cessation of live casino gaming caused numbers to sharply plummet, and they will take some time to increase, even after the shutdowns end.”
In the first month of the pandemic lockdown, online gambling in New Jersey had a revenue stream of $64.8 million. While that was a lifeline for the land-based casino operators that also run online sites, it does not make up for the $124 million in live gaming revenue lost in that time. With New Jersey casinos shut for the entirety of April and facing a similar situation this month, the outlook is grim.
The longer that land-based casinos in Atlantic City are closed, the more difficult it will be for the corporations that own the venues to then reopen them. However, the online casinos may bring more to the table than just revenue, as they will likely bring in new players and thus give operators some hope.
There have been steps taken to try to reopen the casinos by Memorial Day weekend. If that was to happen, all venues would have to follow strict guidelines in terms of sanitization and social distancing. However, it appears increasingly unlikely that Atlantic City casinos will be allowed to open their doors by the start of the summer.
AtlantiCare and the Casino Association of New Jersey are two major employers in southern New Jersey, and they recently announced a plan of action to reopen the state’s gaming industry.
“We want Atlantic City to be ready to open as soon as the government determines it is appropriate to do so,” said Steve Callender, the president of the Casino Association of New Jersey
“That is why we are working with our regional health care provider to develop a comprehensive plan that ensures our properties are prepared and ready to reopen when the stay-at-home order is lifted.”