Atlantic City is the latest gambling town to begin reopening casinos amidst the coronavirus pandemic. Venues shut down back in mid-March and have just now started to get back to work, but in a much different manner than before. What should players expect when traveling to the Boardwalk? What measures are in place for player safety?
Casinos have been shut down for over 100 days and have worked over the past few weeks to get ready to open back up. Some are opening today while others are waiting even longer. The Borgata was planning on reopening on July 6, but when the governor decided to delay indoor dining, the casino decided to delay their opening day.
What to Expect
Before a casino in Atlantic City could reopen, they had to meet guidelines set forth by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement. The guidelines cover what the casinos need to do to stay clean. The guidelines also focus on the 25% capacity rule as well as requirements of guests and casino policy changes.
The fourth of July weekend is usually an extremely busy time in Atlantic City. Visitors come from all across the US to enjoy the beaches, casinos, dining and entertainment. However this year, the area will be much different. The casinos can only hold 25% their capacity, so venues will be much less packed than they normally are.
Employees do not count in the 25% capacity ruling. Hotel rooms are also not counted. When considering the capacity percentage, a casino must look at the hotel lobby, casino floor, sports books, poker rooms, etc.
For the casino floor, the gaming tables will be vastly different than before. At the Pai Gow and blackjack tables, players will only find three seats per table. For roulette and poker tables, only four people are allowed per table. At the craps table, each side is limited to three players with six per table. Unrelated guests to the games must maintain physical distancing around the tables.
For slot players, there will also be fewer slot games in operation. The DGE is requiring that each casino have a vacant position between each guest. To implement the restrictions, certain machines must be turned off and signage alerting guests of the unavailable machines.
Employees have been assigned at each casino to disinfect and clean the gaming machines. The goal is to see the machines cleaned on a more regular basis so that there is a lower chance of spreading Covid-19. Security and personnel must ensure that guests are not congregating around the gaming machines.
For sports fans, New Jersey sportsbooks are getting back to offering services. They will reopen as the MLB, NBA and NHL start their seasons. At sportsbooks in Atlantic City, guests and groups must remain six feet apart from others. Food will not be served in lounge areas of sportsbooks. Employees will work to clean high touch areas and contact points.
Betting kiosks will be in use. Employees will need to clean these machines every four hours or less. Guests can also request that an employee clean a kiosk or seat before use.
It is clear that Atlantic City will not be its usual busy self during fourth of July weekend. It will be interesting to see just how many players come to the casinos and if employees have any trouble with players not adhering to the rules. Hopefully, everyone will act accordingly and do what is right to stay safe and have fun.