NJ Gov. Bans Smoking And Drinking In Atlantic City Casinos

Atlantic City’s largest and most profitable casino is staying closed after New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy announced Monday that he was postponing the resumption of indoor dining. Murphy also banned smoking and drinking inside Atlantic City’s casinos until he feels it is safe to resume.

Just last week, Murphy announced that Atlantic City’s nine casinos could reopen on July 2, the same day that indoor dining was scheduled to resume.

The properties would only be allowed to operate at 25 percent capacity and must adhere to several health and safety guidelines that included social distancing measures, enhanced sanitization measures and mandatory masks for both players and staff.

With the move to ban food, drinks and smoking inside gambling establishments, the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa has decided to keep its doors shut until officials decide that it is safe to resume those services.

“Our guests expect a special experience when they come to our property and if we cannot provide that level of hospitality, we feel it best that we remain closed until such time that the governor lets us know it is safe to offer food and beverage,” MGM Resorts, the parent company of Borgata, said in a press release. “The health and safety of our employees and guests are at the center of all that we do, and we regret that, at this time, we are unable to welcome back the thousands of employees who are anxious to return to work. We look forward to a time when it is safe to welcome everyone back.”

At the time of writing, Borgata is the only New Jersey casino to react to the news. With gaming eligible to reopen July 2, Borgata had originally announced that it would hold a soft opening on July 2 before a full reopening for the general public on July 6.

The eight other casinos in Atlantic City are expected to open when eligible.

Murphy’s decision came in response to coronavirus infection rates spiking in some states that had already begun reopening their local economies. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott recently “paused” the state’s reopening process as it saw a record-high number of new cases last week.

According to an Associated Press report, New Jersey reported 156 new cases overnight, which brings the total of confirmed COVID-19 cases to 171,000. The state reported 13,138 deaths from the virus.

Murphy ordered Atlantic City casinos to temporarily shutter on March 16. It is one of the few states that has yet to reopen its gaming market.

While the brick-and-mortar establishments have been closed for more than three months, online casinos have carried the revenue burden for the state. In May, online casinos set all-time highs in recorded revenue. In April, Garden State online gaming operators saw records in online poker revenue.

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