The state of New Jersey has been hit hard by recent events. The closure of non-essential businesses across the state has left hundreds of thousands of individuals without work, as unemployment claims reach unprecedented levels. Between April 5-11, some 141,120 unemployment claims were filed, 18.5 times more than the same period in 2019. The State Department of Labor released the data in mid-April, 2020. Between 2 March-10 April, New Jersey paid some $424.6 million in unemployment benefits.
New Jersey Announces Plan to Reopen States Casinos
According to the DOL, New Jersey’s initial claims amounted to 71,017 for the week ending April 25, down 69,122 from April 18 jobless claims of 140,139. Heading into May, some 850,000+ workers have already filed for unemployment.
One of the leading employers in the Garden State is the Hotel & Casino industry of Atlantic City. An estimated 27,000+ people are employed by the 9 hotel and casino resorts, 20,000+ of whom are considered full-time employees. The health crisis resulted in the closure of all non-essential businesses across the state.
Atlantic City is home to all the casino resorts, including: Hard Rock Hotel Casino, Bally’s Atlantic City, Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa, Caesars Atlantic City, Golden Nugget Atlantic City, Harrah’s Resort Atlantic City, Ocean Casino Resort, Resorts Casino Hotel, and Tropicana Atlantic City.
The online gaming affiliates associated with these licensed casinos are managed by Resorts Digital Gaming LLC and Caesars Interactive Entertainment New Jersey LLC. The Department of Law & Public Safety, and the DGE have reported that the casino hotel employment figures for March 1 2020 were as follows:
- Bally’s Atlantic City – 1,602 FT, 99 PT, 340 other
- Borgata – 4,122 FT, 847 PT, 593 other
- Caesars – 2,024 FT, 143 PT, 354 other
- Golden Nugget – 1,581 FT, 238 PT, 218 other
- Hard Rock – 2,504 FT, 246 PT, and 820 other
- Harrah’s Resort – 2,372 FT, 142 PT, and 577 other
- Ocean Casino Resort – 1,755 FT, 653 PT, and 464 other
- Resorts/DGMB Gaming – 1,441 FT, 223 PT, and 178 other
- Tropicana Atlantic City – 2,251 FT, 429 PT, and 234 other
The closure of Atlantic City casinos has accelerated jobless claims in the city and exacerbated the instability of one of the hardest hit states in the US. At the time of writing (May 2, 2020) New Jersey reported 123,717+ cases, 7,742 deaths +, and over 114,704 active cases. Together with New York state, this small region of the north-east makes the lion’s share of COVID-19 cases in the US.
Now that numbers are slowly starting to stabilize, and together with a Federal Blueprint on slowly reopening the US economy, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy announced his ‘Road Back’ initiative to gradually open up the Garden State.
The phased operation is designed to maintain public health and safety while simultaneously getting the economy back on track. The step-by-step approach to reopening the multi-billion dollar casino industry requires methodical planning. Already, casinos have put plans in place to facilitate safer gaming by having vacant seats every other slot machine game, and reducing casino capacity to limit the spread of the virus.
Expanded Testing to Safeguard Gaming Patrons
Additional measures include testing of individuals at approved testing centers across the state, and contact tracing to determine which contacts have likely been infected by the virus. In the wake of this global catastrophe, New Jersey online casinos have seen a sharp spike in activity. GGR at regulated online casinos has spiked in April, with increased take on online slot machine games, table games, card games, and live casino games.
New Jersey will be implementing a multi-principled approach to safety and security. Measures include county by county steps to attest to marked reductions in the number of confirmed infections. Any counties which have experienced rising infection rates will be precluded from a phased reopening. In addition, expanded testing at state level will be taking place, with state government support.
The governor’s office has announced that additional resources will be provided to businesses to allow them to open up securely and successfully. This period in history marks the first time in an estimated 44 years that New Jersey has not generated revenue from its casino industry. Sports betting online and at land-based bookmakers has essentially collapsed during this time too.
Lawmakers believe that NJ is slowly turning the corner, and this has allowed a set of plans to be implemented to get the economy back into gear.