Posted on: January 4, 2021, 10:35h.
Last updated on: January 4, 2021, 11:34h.
Atlantic City casino executives are more than happy to file away 2020 and get 2021 started. The city hopes 2021 will bring a return of visitors for its nine casino properties.
The gaming capital of the East Coast is hoping for brighter days ahead after COVID-19 closed the brick-and-mortar operations of Atlantic City’s nine casinos from mid-March through early July,
Gaming industry executives are optimistic better days are on the horizon.
We’re guardedly optimistic,” Steve Callender, a Caesars Entertainment executive and president of the Casino Association of New Jersey, told the Associated Press.
“It’s going to take a couple months for the vaccine to be widely distributed. But there is incredible pent-up demand. I’m constantly getting calls, emails, and texts from people that haven’t come back yet who are just waiting until they can get vaccinated,” Callender added.
Casino Regulations and Limitations
New Jersey casinos continue to be limited to 50 percent occupancy, not including employees. Indoor dining and beverage service must terminate nightly at 10 pm and can resume at 5 am the next day.
Coronavirus regulations, as well as travel restrictions throughout most of 2020, devastated Atlantic City’s gaming industry.
Four in 10 gaming industry workers in New Jersey remain off the job. Casinos reported gross operating profits of $68.13 million through three quarters of 2020. That’s down 86 percent compared with the same nine months in 2019 — a decline of more than $416.4 million.
“It’s been the most challenging year we all can remember,” said Hard Rock Atlantic City President Joe Lupo.
Despite the difficulties endured in 2020, executives believe pent-up demand among gamblers who have been confined to their homes will result in a gaming boom in the coming months.
“The pent-up demand is going to be explosive,” Bob McDevitt, the casino union boss in town, said. “It’s going to be a busy summer. It’s one thing to sit at home in your underwear and gamble on your phone, and quite another to come to a casino resort in person, go to dinner, and see a show.”
Atlantic City is set to look different this year, as a longtime Boardwalk eyesore is set to come down. Trump Plaza is slated for demolition in February.
Atlantic City is holding a charity auction, the high bidder being afforded the right to hit the implosion button remotely. The current bid is $175,000. The money raised will go to the Boys & Girls Club of Atlantic City.
Showboat owner Bart Blatstein is set to make some waves in Atlantic City this year. The New Jersey Casino Reinvestment Development Authority last week signed off on providing upwards of $50 million in tax credits for him to build a $100 million waterpark. The indoor entertainment venue will be built next to the Showboat on what’s currently beach volleyball courts.
Atlantic City officials hope to bring back conventions in the coming months. But New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) continues to greatly limit indoor gatherings. Upcoming conventions that are in jeopardy include the Atlantic City RV and Camping Show in February (~10,300 attendees), Spirit Cheer in March (~25,000 attendees), and AnimeNEXT in June (~30,000 attendees).