Battle Brewing Over New Jersey Plan To Reopen Casinos
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy continues to keep casinos closed throughout the state, but he is facing some stiff opposition. Senate President Stephen Sweeney has been vocal in his wanting the casinos to reopen, and sent out a powerful tweet over the weekend.
Sweeney has pointed to other states that have started to reopen their casinos, and he thinks that the same action should be taken in New Jersey. The continued closures of the casinos cost the state millions of dollars, killing the economy in Atlantic City.
Murphy ordered that the nine Atlantic City casinos close on March 16, and he has not even considered reopening them. This decision has also had a devastating impact on the unemployment rates in New Jersey.
The nine casinos employed more than 26,000 workers before the pandemic hit, and almost all of these workers have been out of a job for three months. The state is also losing out on a ton of tax revenue as these casinos are not winning any money.
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Sweeney has been urging the governor to reopen the casinos in Atlantic City for close to a month, and he is starting to generate plenty of support from fellow lawmakers. Murphy has maintained that opening casinos is dangerous and could lead to another surge of the coronavirus.
Not only is Stephen Sweeney in a battle with the governor, but he is also working hard to provide some relief for the gaming industry. Sweeney is sponsoring or supporting several bills that aim to save the tourism industry in New Jersey.
One bill would call for the casinos to receive interest-free loans from the State Treasurer. This would allow casinos to begin paying their employees again to lower the unemployment rates.
The Atlantic City Boardwalk has also seen some changes when it comes to the consumption of alcoholic beverages. Mayor Marty Small signed an executive order that lifted these restrictions, and the hope is that it will lure people to the area.
The executive order will be lifted when Governor Murphy allows bars and restaurants to reopen.
Online Casinos Have Big Month of May
Even though land-based casinos in Atlantic City are losing money, that isn’t the case with online casinos throughout the state. Online casinos won close to $86 million during May, which was a huge increase from May 2019 numbers.
According to the report, online casinos made more than 124 percent more in May 2020 than they did during May 2019. The casino industry is still hurting from the pandemic, but online casinos have kept the industry afloat.
Interactive slots and table games brought in the majority of the money, accounting for $81.4 million in May. Of that total, $4.5 million came from online poker sites, and New Jersey is one of a handful of states that allows online poker to be played.
Sportsbooks have struggled throughout the pandemic as well, but that is due to a majority of sports being shut down. Sportsbooks won just $9.9 million last month, which was a 36 percent drop from their win total in May 2019.
The gaming industry in New Jersey has seen revenue of close to $930 million through the first five months of the year. This is a large number, but it is still more than $377 million less than the first five months in 2020.
Golden Nugget Casino saw the biggest win during May, racking up $29 million in wins. Resorts was in second place at $17.6 million.