ATLANTIC CITY — The iconic lyric — “Meet me tonight in Atlantic City” — played over and over as usual out of Boardwalk speakers Monday, but on this day, it sounded like a cruel joke on this battered seaside town as its nine casinos prepared to shut their doors by 8 p.m. — indefinitely.
The action brought both relief and fear as casino workers, cabdrivers, bartenders, junket tour managers, beer festival organizers, valets, even the rolling-chair operators who have roamed the Boardwalk for a century contemplated a town without its economic engine.
“I’m upset about it,” said one table-game supervisor at Resorts shortly after word of the shutdown began to trickle into the casino and where the front desk had stopped checking in people. “Who’s going to pay my bills?"
Ordered by Gov. Phil Murphy as part of a vast curtailing of businesses to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus, the closures mark the fifth time in the 42-year history of legalized gambling in Atlantic City that the casinos have been shuttered.
Previously, the casinos shut down for five days during Hurricane Sandy in 2012, for three days as Hurricane Irene approached in 2011, during Hurricane Gloria in 1985, and for a state government shutdown in 2006 that closed the casinos for three days, causing a loss of about $55 million.