He said his administration is "trying like heck" to get the casinos opened earlier

New Jersey Gov. eyeing July 4 for Atlantic City casinos reopening

Gov. Phil Murphy said casinos present a unique problem because of stagnant air and close contact among patrons and staff.
2020-06-01
Reading time 1:42 min
Governor Phil Murphy said Sunday it is still too early to give an exact date, but added that it would likely be around Independence Day. He said strict social distancing and occupancy limits will have to be enforced and he is working with casino owners and local officials on a reopening plan.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said Sunday he hopes Atlantic City casinos can be reopened around July 4, but said that strict social distancing and occupancy limits will have to be enforced to make sure COVID-19 is not easily spread.

The governor said that his administration is "trying like heck" to get the casinos opened earlier but said the task is enormously complicated to ensure the safety of gamblers and workers, he told WOND radio in South Jersey.

"It's probably still too early to give you a specific answer," Murphy said of an exact date but stressed it would likely be around Independence Day, as reported by NorthJersey.

Murphy said Sunday he is working with casino owners and local officials on a reopening plan but didn't offer what a casino floor would look like during a pandemic. Like indoor-seating at restaurants, Murphy said casinos present a unique problem because of stagnant air and close contact among patrons and staff.

Last week, Atlantic County Democratic Chairman Michael Suleiman asked Murphy to come up with a plan to safely reopen Atlantic City casinos by the July 4 weekend. He said he wanted the governor to include service industry labor unions like UNITE-HERE Local 54 to be involved in formulating a casino reopening plan, as well as several key building trades unions.

Casinos have been closed since March 16 per Murphy's order, and they have lost hundreds of millions in revenues and laid off thousands of workers. The state has lost $18 million in direct taxes on gambling in March and April alone, according to state gambling data. Revenue numbers for May are not yet available.

Also, while online gaming and sports betting have continued, most sporting events have been canceled. Gaming revenue for April was $82.6 million, a decrease of almost 69% from $265 million in April 2019, according to state data. Although casinos were open for half the month, revenue for March dropped to $163 million compared to $294 million in 2019, a 44% decrease.

MGM Resorts, which owns the Borgata, was one of the gaming operators in the US to release a plan for reopening its hotels and casinos, which will have to adhere to whatever orders Murphy establishes for casinos.

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