Boozy Borgata: MGM Borgata Opens Its Doors Once More; All 9 Atlantic City Casinos Now Reopened

July 30, 2020 3 min read
by Thomas Wolf

MGM-owned Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa became the last of Atlantic City’s casinos to reopen on Sunday after the COVID-19 pandemic forced Governor Phil Murphy to lock the state down on March 21st—now some four months ago.

Casinos were told they could reopen on July 2nd, albeit with a whole load of new measures in place to avoid spreading the coronavirus.

However, MGM and Borgata were reportedly not happy with the restrictions on alcohol and food sales.

Borgata Casino Atlantic City
Borgata Casino in Atlantic Casino at night.

MGM decided to put off reopening the venue until these measures were relaxed. Otherwise, the casino could come up with a new way to provide hospitality to customers.

“Our customers expect a special experience when they come to our property, and if we cannot provide that level of hospitality, we feel it best that we remain closed,” said an MGM representative at the time.

In the end, the casino found ways to adapt to the rules rather than wait for them to change. The Borgata has now widely expanded its outdoor dining options, including a large tent under which takeout food can be eaten, a brand new beer garden area, and 24/7 room service.

Nevertheless, like all Atlantic City casinos, it will operate at 25% capacity for the foreseeable future.

In normal times, this would be a disaster for any business. However, operators may now see it as better than the zero percent they were getting just a month ago.

“There’s nothing worse than a casino with no people,” said Borgata’s Chief Operating Officer, Melonie Johnson.

New Normal

New measures in place for the reopening include:

  • Plexiglass screens between players at the casino tables
  • Masks required at all times indoors
  • Two hand-washing stations on the casino floor
  • Temperature checks upon entrance
  • Every other slot machine left unused
  • Seats, machines, and card decks cleaned after each use

Visitors were told to register online if they wanted to attend the Sunday morning opening. They were let in in staggered numbers throughout the day to discourage a line from forming.

“Our goal is to avoid crowds. Our job is to maintain social distancing among both guests and employees,”

Liza Costandino, Borgata spokesperson

It’s unknown exactly how many of the site’s 5000+ employees have returned for the opening.

Some returning players, such as Brenda Cook from Atlantic City, were fine with all the restrictions and seemed buoyant after hitting a win—possibly for the first time in months.

“I just won a whole lot of money, and I’m feeling fabulous,” she told local reporters.

Others were more somber. “I guess this is the new normal. You have to take it or leave it,” Jeff Rutizer from Philadelphia told CBS Local News.

Fortunate Son

The Borgata’s decision to withhold opening for another month may have also been influenced by the strong performance of New Jersey’s online casino sector during the pandemic lockdown.

While millions of Americans sheltered at home and thousands more sadly lost their lives to the deadly disease, many turned to online gambling to entertain themselves while stuck indoors.

NJ’s own Golden Nugget pulled in a record $29 million in revenue last month. The Borgata was not far behind, with $16 million deposited via its online services.

Even with that slight cushion, overall gambling revenues fell by up to 70% across the whole city. Operators will no doubt be glad to see the casinos all open again, even in a limited capacity.

Atlantic City is still in better shape than Vegas, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to ravage many parts of the country. In Nevada’s gambling mecca, income dropped to zero for many casinos over the lockdown period.

Author

Thomas Wolf

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