After closing in mid-March due to the coronavirus, Atlantic City's nine casinos will start reopening this week.
It's only the fifth time in the 42-year history of legalized gambling in Atlantic City casinos were shuttered due to a crisis -- and the longest shutdown.
The city's casinos were ordered closed March 16 by Gov. Phil Murphy as part of vast restrictions on businesses to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
A gradual reopening that begins Thursday retains severe limits on socializing,: Casinos can only operate at 25% capacity and masks are required. No food or alcohol will be allowed on the gaming floors -- only as takeout.
The Garden State's gambling hub has lost an estimated $540 million monthly. Casinos took in about 69 percent less money in April 2020 than last April -- bolstered only by a more than doubling in internet betting proceeds.
Murphy backtracked on allowing indoor dining to resume, prompting Atlantic City's highest-grossing casino, Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa, to cancel plans to reopen this week.
In a new executive order on Monday, the governor barred indoor food and beverage consumption, including alcohol, and smoking in any entertainment, retail or recreational establishment.
Five casinos — Golden Nugget Atlantic City, Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City, Ocean Casino Resort, Resorts Casino Hotel and Tropicana — will reopen to the general public on Thursday. Golden Nugget and Hard Rock open at 6 a.m., while Ocean, Resorts and Tropicana open at 8 a.m.
Three other casinos -- Bally's Atlantic City, Caesars Atlantic City and Harrah's Resort Atlantic City -- will permit its Seven Stars members to return on Thursday before opening to the public on Friday.
Atlantic City casinos can resume business at 25% capacity, according to state guidelines. The state has yet to release industry wide health and safety protocols, but Murphy has already said masks will be required by everyone on property.
Dealers and other staff were being trained this week as the casinos restocked their inventory. Takeout food will be allowed, so guests will be able to bring meals and beverages back to their hotel rooms -- or outside of the casinos.
Managers reported that casinos were thoroughly cleaned from top to bottom and replaced tens of thousands of air filters in lodging and gaming facilities.
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