If all goes well in New Jersey, Atlantic City casinos could reopen exactly a month after Las Vegas casinos.
After closing the state’s nine casinos in mid-March, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy revealed that he believes the second-largest gambling market in the country could reopen a month after Las Vegas does.
According to a report from NJ.com, Murphy said Sunday morning that casinos could reopen by July 4, with certain restrictions in place.
“It’s probably still too early to give you a very specific answer but there’s a lot of work going into that right now,” said Murphy in a radio interview. “But we are trying like heck to get toward, I hope, before the Fourth of July or at least by the Fourth of July … that we’re in a position where we can say, you know what, subject to a lot of different parameters, the casinos can be open again.”
It’s likely that New Jersey will be the last state to reopen its casinos as most regions around the country have already reopened or have announced definitive reopening dates. Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak announced last week that Silver State casinos can reopen with restrictions on June 4.
Deadwood, a historic mining town in South Dakota was the first region to reopen commercial casinos in early May. The casinos experienced a robust turnout from customers, displaying pent-up demand for the gaming markets.
The same trend happened in Florida as there were more than 100 people on the waitlist for poker games at the Seminole Hard Rock Tampa location when it opened in late-May.
The key difference between Atlantic City and other gaming markets is the proximity to New York City, one of the major hotspots for the COVID-19 pandemic. New Jersey’s gaming market is a popular destination for many people from the city, which has 200,445 cases of coronavirus in the five boroughs, according to Johns Hopkins University.
The two major tribal casinos in Connecticut, Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods, are about equidistant from the city and opened Monday, but will not serve New York residents. Instead, the two casinos will only allow locals from Connecticut and nearby Rhode Island to enter and gamble.
The two casinos opened despite concerns from Gov. Ned Lamont. Lamont called the decision “risky,” but since the casinos are located on sovereign tribal land, the tribes are not required to abide by the governor’s orders.
Besides the pandemic, Atlantic City also has to deal with civil unrest stemming from the protests, riots and looting in reaction to George Floyd’s death.
According to local media, several retail outlets had property destroyed and inventory looted Sunday night and Mayor Marty Small implemented an 8 p.m. curfew until June 8 to curb any violence.
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