Memorial Day weekend is upon us, and that means bbq’s and parties in the United States. It also signals a time when people in the states decide to travel. In Atlantic City, casino operators are hopeful that a recent COVID-19 restriction change will see more visitors travel to the area this weekend and into the summer months.
Earlier this week, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, announced that the regulations regarding the pandemic are changing effective May 28. Mask wearing and social distancing are no longer required indoors. However, casinos can choose to continue to require masks and distancing between patrons of they so choose.
Atlantic City will look very different starting this weekend as visitors come to the Boardwalk town mask-free. For over a year now, masks have been mandated along with other precautions in the hopes that the COVID-19 would stop spreading locally, as well as throughout New Jersey and the rest of the US.
In the recently announced executive order, Murphy made it clear that casinos do not have to continue social distancing and masks are not mandatory unless stated by the casino. This means that dancing can continue again in clubs, eating and drinking while standing around the casino, etc.
It is unclear as to what the individual casinos in Atlantic City plan to do just yet. However, we expect there will not be a mask restriction in place. If even one casino decides to require masks, it is most likely that patrons will go to a neighboring venue to play games, dine, and drink.
What About Conventions?
Like Las Vegas, Atlantic City also relies on conventions in order to be able to bring in a regular stream of customers. The regulation change gave venues hope that they would be able to offer conventions once again, but it’s not that simple.
In the new mandate, a date of June 4 was set to stop indoor gathering limits. There will no longer be a 30% capacity limit for large venues to host indoor events. While this is a great sign that conventions can start once again, organizers need time to pull events together.
It could be months or even years before conventions are back up and running. The convention industry is big business for Atlantic City, usually bringing in almost $2 billion in revenues for the city annually. Without this money, the region falls short of its usual earnings.
All eyes are going to be on Atlantic City as well as other gambling towns like Las Vegas this weekend. As mask mandates go away and the holiday weekend begins, it will be interesting to see just how busy these venues are.
Will the casino operators see a huge uptick in traffic? Are people more willing to travel now that vaccinations are more prevalent, and the previous restrictions have been removed? Only time will tell but some analysts expect that this weekend will be a big one for the gaming industry and will hopefully trigger the return of guests to casinos across the United States.