What Atlantic City casinos will likely do to protect you and themselves
What exactly the casino floors will look like, and how easy they'll be to access, we don't yet know, but Atlantic City gaming halls will be able to begin wheeling and dealing on July 2.
Properties are waiting on health and safety guidelines from the state, and may be for another few days. In the meantime, industry experts suggest, Atlantic City casinos can look to other states, also attempting to rebound from the COVID-19 public health crisis, that have already reopened casinos to the public.
"They're going to look at what has worked in Las Vegas and other areas that they operate," said Marie Jones, partner and co-chair of Fox Rothschild's Gaming Practice Group in Atlantic City, noting most casinos in the seaside resort city are owned by groups that have casinos elsewhere.
Jones said she was surprised by both the announced launch date for New Jersey casinos and the capacity limit of 25%. Las Vegas casinos opened in early June at 50% capacity. Masks initially were not required for guests, but the rule quickly changed to force the precaution among certain gamblers.
"I would've thought that they'd try to open on the 29th (of June) to give the properties a little bit more time before the July 4th weekend," Jones said.
Jones does not anticipate casinos will force patrons to sign COVID-19 protection waivers when they enter, but believes general waiver statements through email or throughout the property are likely.
Gov. Phil Murphy told reporters during a Monday COVID-19 briefing that full guidance for casinos is still being drafted, but that it's already known that face coverings for workers and guests will be mandatory, along with health screenings. Hard Rock had already announced plans to require masks of guests and employees.
"Several casino operators plan to open to friends, family and loyal customers first on July 2, to test these new protocols to ensure their efficacy," Murphy said.
July 2 is also the first day restaurants in New Jersey will be able to start serving customers indoors.
Roger Gros, publisher of Global Gaming Business magazine, said he expects Atlantic City casinos to be "pretty busy" for July 4 weekend — as busy as they can be at 25% capacity.
"We don't know how they're going to maintain that capacity, how they're going to figure out what the capacity is to begin with," Gros said.
For now, Gros said, casinos are scrambling to get their employees back and trained in time for a pre-holiday opening.
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