New Jersey has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, and the state has been slow to reopen non-essential businesses. Casinos in Atlantic City have remained close since the middle of March, but that is set to change in July.
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy announced on Monday that casinos can reopen their doors starting on July 2, just in time for the July 4 weekend. Murphy has faced plenty of criticism for his handling of the pandemic, and other political leaders have urged him to reopen casinos for the last few weeks.
Murphy sent out a tweet announcing the news on Monday, and he also issued a stern warning to customers that don’t follow the health and safety measures. He noted that these customers would be dealt with immediately, but the casinos will likely be responsible for handling these situations.
July 4 is one of the busiest days of the year for Atlantic City casinos, and they have been pleading with the Governor to allow them to reopen. Atlantic City is the second biggest casino market in the United States, just behind Las Vegas, Nevada.
Strict Health Regulations Will Be in Place
In his announcement, Murphy instructed that casinos can only reopen with 25 percent of their normal capacity. Even with this restriction in place, casinos are expected to be flooded with guests, and there will be long lines outside of each casino.
Murphy also announced that the state would be issuing several other health and safety regulations over the next few days. Still, most casinos have already developed a reopening plan.
The state will likely follow the lead of other states that have allowed their casinos to reopen slowly. Mandatory wearing of masks for both employees and guests will be included in the new regulations that will be enforced.
The Hard Rock is one of the casinos that has already developed a reopening plan, and that plan included the wearing of masks. Hard Rock will also be issuing temperature checks to both guests and employees before they are allowed in the casino.
Casinos will also be removing or turning off many slot machines in the casinos to achieve social distancing. Table games will likely have plexiglass dividers installed, and there will be a limit on the number of players allowed at each table.
Sports Betting Industry Seeing a Comeback
The sports betting industry in New Jersey is one of the biggest in the United States, and it has rivaled that of Las Vegas over the last few months. Sports betting has taken a huge hit during the pandemic as well, but the industry is starting to recover.
April was the worst month ever for the sports betting industry in New Jersey, but May saw a spike in betting handle and revenue. This spike was likely caused by several live sporting events beginning to return throughout the country.
Gamblers wagered more than $117 million during May, which was an increase of almost 116 percent from the handle in April. Revenue was reported of more than $9 million, which was a huge jump from the $2.6 million brought in a month earlier.
Even though the numbers are starting to look much better, the state is still way behind the numbers they saw in May 2019. May 2020 saw a 63 percent loss in total betting handle from the numbers reported in May 2019.
The loss not only hurts each individual sportsbook, but the state depends on tax revenue from the sports betting industry as well. FanDuel and DraftKings remained the leaders in the industry during May 2020, bringing in combined revenue of more than $8 million.