Atlantic City Executives Remain Hopeful While Ushering in the New Year

In Atlantic City, casino operators are more than thrilled to bid adieu to the past decade and usher in 2021. The city hopes the new year will draw visitors to brick-and-mortar establishments as the industry suffers from the side-effects of the pandemic.

The Gaming Capital of the East Coast, as NJ is popularly called, is hoping for the tides to turn after the pandemic wreaked havoc from mid-March through early July. The mood is quickly shifting as industry veterans hope to see better days in the immediate future.

“We’re quite optimistic,” said Steve Callender, an executive at Caesars Entertainment and President of the Casino Association of New Jersey, during an interview with the Associated Press.

“It’s going to take a few months for the vaccine to be distributed considering the incredibly pent-up global demand. I’m constantly receiving calls, emails, and texts from people that haven’t come in for months and are waiting for the vaccine to be doled out on a mass scale,” Callender added.

New Jersey Casinos Continue to Operate Under Strict Restrictions

Casinos in New Jersey continue to operate at 50% capacity at most, excluding the staff. Indoor dining and beverage services are temporarily banned between 10 PM and 5 AM. Travel restrictions and COVID-19 protocols destroyed the gaming business in Atlantic City for a significant portion of 2020.

While casinos reported gross operating profits of $68.13 million during the last three quarters of 2020, four in ten casino workers remain out of work. This isn’t surprising as the profit figures are down by almost 86% compared to the same period in 2019, which marks a decline of nearly $416.4 million.

“2020 has been the most challenging year that we can think of”, said Joe Lupo, President of Hard Rock Atlantic City. Despite the challenges faced in 2020, casino executives believe that the pent-up feelings and frustrations among punters will draw them back to their favorite brick-and-mortar casinos as soon as the restrictions are lifted. Thus, pointing at a gaming boom in the next few months.

What Does the New Year Entail?

Atlantic City is slated for a revamp this year as the longtime Boardwalk eyesore – read Trump Plaza – is scheduled for demolition sometime in February. The authorities are hosting a charity auction, and the highest bidder will be handed the controls to trigger the explosives remotely.

Bart Blatstein, the owner of Showboat Atlantic City, is set to make some waves this year. The New Jersey Casino Reinvestment Development Authority provided tax benefits up to $50 million for him, with which he plans to build a waterpark right next to Showboat for an approximate budget of $100 million.

Authorities in Atlantic City hope to bring back the patrons in the next few months as the pandemic subsides. However, the situation remains grim as Governor Phil Murphy continues to restrict movement within indoor establishments. A few conventions that are likely in jeopardy include the Atlantic City RV and Camping Show in February, Spirit Cheer in March, and AnimeNEXT in June.

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