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New Jersey Casinos Will Remain Closed Indefinitely

The Covid-19 outbreak has impacted significantly on various jurisdictions and marketplaces across the globe, with New Jersey’s Atlantic City and offline gambling
sector offering a relevant case in point.

This state has actually reported more cases than others in North America (other than New York), with a total of 155,000 confirmed cases and 11,191 deaths amongst the
8.9 million population at the time of writing.

Of course, this has not impacted on gamblers too much, as anyone who likes to wager their hard-earned cash regularly has plenty of great options available online in

However, the brick-and-mortar marketplace in NJ has been genuinely affected, while this trend could continue for the foreseeable future. But when will casinos reopen
their doors, and can these establishments recover over the longer-term? Let’s find out.

Atlantic City Closures - The Story so Far

The spread of Covid-19 in the US began in earnest in March, and the Garden State’s Governor Phil Murphy elected to temporarily halt gambling operations by closing the
doors at all nine casinos in Atlantic City on the 16th of the month

The socio-economic effect of these measures have already been felt throughout the industry, with the gambling mecca of the northeast reporting an estimated 69% decrease in revenue generation year-on-year in April. Not only has this triggered mass layoffs that have impacted thousands of gaming industry employees statewide (and the subsequent lives of a raft of other residents), but it’s also unclear when the current hiatus will end.

“It’s a huge game-changer in our economy and in the lives of literally tens of thousands of people out there,” said Governor Murphy in an interview on WPG Talk Radio. “I would love nothing more to say we’re ready to go. We’re just not there yet.” So, while plans to reopen casinos throughout Atlantic City remain the source of ongoing discussion, the Governor is clear that no concrete or tangible end to this
aspect of the lockdown is in sight.

While this issue is particularly pertinent in NJ, we should not forget that other states have been similarly affected. According to the American Gaming Association, 181 of the 989 commercial and
tribal casino properties in the US have already been reopened as of May 26th, with establishments in Arizona, Florida and South Dakota having experienced increased demand upon the resumption of their operations.

This will be on the mind of Atlantic City operators, who should be ready to cope with such demand from the moment that they reopen their doors. The Rise of Online Gambling in NJ They say that when one door closes another one opens, and this rule can definitely be applied to gambling in NJ.

After all, while offline gambling revenues declined at an alarming rate in April, the state’s online yield soared to a record $80 million during the same period. According to figures released last week by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE), licensed iGaming operators in the state generated combined revenues of just under $80 million during the reporting period, with this representing
a 118.6% gain in relation to April 2019.

This is also nearly $15 higher than the previous record set in March 2020, and while iGaming in NJ has been embarked on an upward trend for a while now, there’s no doubt that the Covid-19 outbreak has accelerated this growth considerably. In total, the online casino vertical was up 114.3% to a record $74.8 million, while online poker also more than tripled year-on-year to $5.15 million.
The latter also beat the previous poker record of $3.6 million set during the last month, showcasing how all iGaming verticals have continued to boom since the coronavirus pandemic took hold stateside.

The Last Word
Ultimately, while the growth of iGaming verticals and the total GGY has been good for New Jersey, the local economy and labour market will continue to suffer for as long as Atlantic City is closed for business.
The good news is that Governor Murphy has begun to initiate the gradual lifting of lockdown restrictions on several of the state’s industries, including spas, barbershops, salons and gyms.

Each of these establishments may be allowed to open their doors in the coming weeks and possibly before the end of June, and casinos may also end up being included in this group.
However, the Governor has urged continued caution and the ongoing prioritization of customer safety, and remains loath to commit to a fixed date or time frame at this time.

For now, all parties must remain patient and focused on the bigger prize, but operators should definitely brace themselves for a huge spike in demand once their doors finally reopen.