Atlantic City continues to slowly reach a sense of normalcy as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to be an issue. Just this week, Governor Phil Murphy signed an executive order to increase the indoor capacity of several businesses, including restaurants and bars, to 50%. This means that all nine casinos in the city as well as its entertainment venues, bars, and restaurants will be able to serve more people. The change goes into effect March 19 at 6 am.
Allowing More Patrons
Governor Murphy made the announcement on Twitter and pointed out that Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York has done the same. Both states are trying desperately to get back to normal and allow people to enjoy dining, drinks, and casino gaming.
For quite some time, indoor capacity was limited to 25%. Back in early February, officials increased the number to 35%. Governor Murphy says that the data is providing confidence that it is okay to increase the capacity since the past five weeks have shown a downturn in COVID cases.
When the capacity percentage changed back in February, the hospital was treating a little less than 3,000 patients. Now, the number is down 1,000 and continues to decrease on a consistent basis.
Affect on Atlantic City Casinos
So what will happen at casinos in Atlantic City when the capacity percentage changes? The casino gaming floor won’t really change, but the restaurants, entertainment venues, bars, and spas will be able to provide more services to more people at one time.
This will impact the casino due to the larger crowd size, in general, visiting the Boardwalk properties. Many players, would not travel to the casino due to not being able to sit down for a meal or enjoy a show. Now, with the increase in capacity, more people will be willing to travel to the region for all their entertainment needs.
Casino officials have worked to ensure their properties are among the safest in the United States. Health protocols are followed across the industry as well as strict regulatory oversight. The main goal of operators is to see restrictions lifted on indoor gatherings so the industry can start midweek business involving conventions and business meetings.
Casino Association of New Jersey President Steve Callender stated last year that the industry needs the meetings and conventions to start back up with the 50% increase. He felt strongly at the time that the industry was ready and prepared to do so.
If the conventions and meetings can start back up, it would bring more travelers to Atlantic City. The individuals in the region on business would spend money in other areas, such as the spas, shows, dining, drinks, and of course casino gambling.
It is expected that the capacity percentage will continue to increase as the number of positive COVID-19 cases decrease. Officials are hoping that by summer, venues will be at 100% capacity. Governor Murphy has not commented on the possibility as of yet, but it could be an option especially as more people are vaccinated.