Atlantic City Casinos Expecting a Big Thanksgiving Feast Despite COVID-19 Worries

This year, the COVID-19 pandemic has dominated all aspects of life, including leisure and entertainment. Once again, the virus is in the news, with the outbreak threatening to cancel Thanksgiving celebrations in the United States. A number of states have already decided to go with new measures, some of which include shutting down non-essential businesses such as land-based casinos.

New Jersey, however, still does not belong to those states. According to Governor Phil Murphy, the state has no plans of shutting down the Atlantic City casinos. Gaming fans will be welcome at all nine AC casinos, but there won’t be any turkey on the menu. At least not in the evening as bars and restaurants in casinos now have to close every night at 10 pm.

Governor Phil Murphy Backing Atlantic City Casinos

With the number of people testing positive for COVID-19 going up in New Jersey, a question arose regarding shutting down Atlantic City casinos. Governor Murphy shut them down on March 18 and kept them closed until July 2, but this time, he believes there’s no need for such a measure.

Even though the number of new COVID-19 cases per day is considerably higher than it was in March when casinos ended up closed, Murphy thinks these sorts of venues do not add to the coronavirus risk.

“We believe, based on the evidence that we have, that they’ve been able to responsibly manage their casino floors” – Murphy said during a briefing with other state officials.

The thing is that Atlantic City casinos seem to be doing a very good job keeping the environment coronavirus-free. Furthermore, recent stats show that casinos rank #44 in the list of places where you’re most likely to catch the disease.

Atlantic City Casinos Would Not Survive Another Lockdown

Another incentive to keep the Atlantic City casinos open is the local economy. The gambling industry has suffered big losses as a result of the outbreak, especially in parts of the United States that rely on this industry.

Atlantic City definitely belongs to this category, as the city’s gaming revenue is keeping the local economy healthy. At least it was in the times before the pandemic. Since COVID-19 came to Atlantic City, the gaming revenue plummeted.

As evident from the figures released by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement, Atlantic City casinos generated $186.1 million in revenue this October, which is an 8% decline compared with October 2019.

Not everything is doom and gloom in New Jersey’s gaming world. Online gambling sites have been making a lot of money during the pandemic. Last month, online casinos and sports betting sites generated $118 million.

As a reminder, New Jersey is one of only four US states where online casino gaming is legal and regulated at the moment of writing. The other three states are Pennsylvania, Delaware, and West Virginia.

Grant Mahon

Grant is the self-professed casino madman and reporter that brought this eclectic team of dedicated and talented writers together from around the world to proudly build an humble empire of authentic casino news.

New York Casinos are Back in Business After COVID-19 Shutdown

Starting this week, New York casinos are back in business after a shutdown that lasted for months. To prevent the spread of the coronavirus, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a decree on March 16 that made all commercial casinos in the state close down.

However, starting September 9, New York casinos are letting the players in once again. In addition to commercial casinos, the Empire State has also seen racinos getting back to business. Cuomo’s decision to let the gambling establishments reopen comes some three months after New York tribal casinos decided the same.

Four Commercial NY Casinos Reopen Their Doors to Public

Tribal casinos do not have to follow the guidelines of individual US states when it comes to casino gambling. This is the reason why some of them have reopened long before the New York Governor gave commercial casinos the heads up.

Some of the Indian casinos located within the state borders have been back in the casino game since June. Non-tribal casinos in New York, however, had to wait until September 9 to get back to work.

At the moment of writing, all four commercial casinos in New York are back in business. Those casinos are, namely, the following establishments:

  • Del Lago Resort & Casino in Tyre
  • Jake’s 58 Hotel & Casino in Islandia
  • Rivers Casino & Resort in Schenectady
  • World Catskills Resort in Monticello

Even though they’re back in business, the business is not going to be as usual for these casinos. The same as their tribal-owned counterparts, NY commercial casinos will also have to take some measures in order to minimize the risk of spreading the coronavirus.

Anti-COVID-19 Measures in New York Casinos

Governor Cuomo’s directive allows commercial casinos to reopen, albeit at limited capacity. The number of patrons allowed inside the casinos needs to be no more than one-quarter of the full capacity, which was also the case over in New Jersey when Atlantic City casinos reopened in July.

The role of the casino staff is to make sure the number of visitors does not go over. Another role of the casino employees is to ensure everything present in the casinos wears a face mask. They also need to make sure that social distancing guidelines are respected by the patrons.

All the commercial casinos that have returned to business had to install new air-filtration systems, as well as physical barriers between players’ seats in an effort to prevent the spread of the disease.

New York Gaming Commission to Monitor the Situation

As per the Governor’s instructions, the duty of the New York Gaming Commission is to monitor the situation. Together with the New York State Police, they are obliged to do regular check-ups on the casinos in order to confirm all the anti-COVID-19 measures are carried out properly.

If they spot rule-breaking, they have the right to fine the casino. And if the situation goes out of hand, Cuomo has the right to reverse his decision at any given moment. That said, it’s in the interest of both the casino management and the patrons to respect the newly-set guidelines.

Grant Mahon

Grant is the self-professed casino madman and reporter that brought this eclectic team of dedicated and talented writers together from around the world to proudly build an humble empire of authentic casino news.

Macau Reopens: World’s #1 Gaming Hub Is Back In Business

The largest gambling hub in the world has started to reopen after a long COVID-19 lockdown. Macau has taken some baby steps on the road to complete reopening, something which still is not on the horizon. Nevertheless, China’s gambling paradise has started issuing tourist visas once again, albeit only for the visitors coming from other parts of the country.

When will Macau reopen for international visitors stays a mystery as the coronavirus still remains a serious threat. Another wave of the COVID-19 pandemic would wreak havoc on the city that relies heavily on tourism and gaming. According to BBC, Macau casinos have been losing $15 million every day during the crisis.

Macau Reopens Only to Visitors from Mainland China

The COVID-19 global pandemic started out in China, with the total number of cases being just short of 85,000 at the moment of writing. Macau, however, has been doing much better than mainland China.

Even though there are about 700,000 people who call Macau their home, only 46 COVID-19 cases have been reported in the region. An even more impressive fact is that all of the infected people have recovered successfully.

One of the main reasons behind Macau’s success with handling the crisis is that the region closed down to visitors early on. The Macau travel restrictions were introduced in January, practically turning the biggest gambling hub in the world into a ghost town.

The restrictions lasted until this Wednesday, causing a serious blow to the city’s economy. The worst is behind, but the Macau casino industry has a long road to recovery ahead. There’s no doubt it’s going to be slow as at the moment, as only visitors from mainland China are allowed in. It’s still unknown when the things are going to go back entirely to normal.

On the bright side, a big majority of visitors to Macau are those coming from mainland China. It’s been like that since always, even though this city is home to some prestigious casinos owned by American companies, e.g., Wynn, MGM, and so on.

Macau Casinos Recording Huge Losses

Macau went on lockdown in late January, which included the closure of the regional borders, as well as the shutdown of all the casinos in the area. After only 15 days, Macau casinos returned to business in February.

In comparison, Las Vegas casinos stayed shut down for several months. Nevada shut down all the venues on March 17, and after nearly three months of hiatus, casinos were allowed to go back to business on June 4.

Nevertheless, the Macau gambling industry had to rely on locals as the only source of income, as regional borders stayed closed until this Wednesday. Furthermore, Macau casinos also have to adhere to certain social distancing measures, such as the 50% reduced capacity. It’s needless to say that the limited number of gamblers has caused a gigantic loss in profits.

In 2019, Macau casinos saw nearly 110,000 visitors a day on average. During the 2020 pandemic, that number was more than ten times lower. Last week, for example, it’s estimated that the total number of casino visitors in the whole of Macau was below 50,000.

Grant Mahon

Grant is the self-professed casino madman and reporter that brought this eclectic team of dedicated and talented writers together from around the world to proudly build an humble empire of authentic casino news.

MGM Appoints Bill Hornbuckle as the Permanent CEO

Bill Hornbuckle has been appointed as the permanent CEO of MGM, after being in the role of the interim CEO for more than four months. MGM Resorts International announced their decision this week, saying that they expect Hornbuckle to continue doing a good job.

Hornbuckle stepped in as the interim boss of MGM in March, after the former CEO Jim Murren retired. The interim CEO had been given a very tough challenge, but he’s managed to see the company sail safely through an unprecedented crisis. As a result of a good job done during the COVID-19 pandemic, MGM awarded Hornbuckle with a permanent contract.

Who is Bill Hornbuckle?

A graduate of UNLV, William J. Hornbuckle IV has more than 30 years of experience working in Las Vegas. His first major breakthrough in the ranks of MGM Resorts International came in 2012 when he led the company to develop the $800 million-worth resort MGM Springfield.

When Jim Murren decided to retire in March 2020, Hornbuckle was appointed the interim CEO. At first, the idea was that he’d stay in the role until a more experienced CEO was found. However, the COVID-19 pandemic happened then.

Being able to lead the company through the hardest times in its history made MGM realize Hornbuckle was the right man for the job. In the official statement, the company spokesperson praised his handling of the crisis, saying:

“There are few tests of leadership greater than what Bill has faced… (His) steady hand has provided reassurance and confidence to our employees, partners, guests, and shareholders…”

Even though Hornbuckle did a fine job to guide the company through the crisis, the COVID-19 pandemic did cause huge losses to MGM Resorts International.

COVID-19 Ruins MGM’s Revenue

The same day MGM announced their decision to appoint Hornbuckle as the permanent CEO, the company also released revenue figures for the period before June 30.

As it turns out, MGM’s total revenue generated from April to the end of June was only $289.8m. We say “only” because that’s a 91% drop compared to the same period last year.

In Las Vegas, which is one of the company’s main sources of revenue, the profits have dropped by 90%. Things would be even worse if it weren’t for the fact that Las Vegas casinos returned back to business on June 4.

Over in Macau, MGM China saw a revenue drop of 95%. The company’s three-month revenue was only $33 million, the main reason being the COVID-19 travel restrictions imposed in Macau. As a result of it, visitors from China and Hong Kong haven’t be able to come to Macau for the last couple of months.

MGM Casinos Reopening Around the US

The worst seems to have passed for MGM, as most of the company’s properties are back in business. There is a total of 18 casinos within the United States that are owned by MGM, 14 of which have already reopened after the COVID-19 hiatus.

MGM Grand Detroit should be the next one to reopen as Michigan governor has okayed the casino return in this state. If everything goes according to the plan, MGM’s casino will reopen on August 7. MGM Empire City would be the one to follow next, although much still remains unclear with the COVID-19 situation in New York, whose governor still hasn’t announced the exact reopening dates.

Mirage and Park MGM in Las Vegas, however, will probably remain closed until next year, as suggested by Hornbuckle. The reason for this decision is that the reopening at 50% capacity would not bring desired profits, while potentially cannibalizing other casinos on the strip, including MGM Grand.

Grant Mahon

Grant is the self-professed casino madman and reporter that brought this eclectic team of dedicated and talented writers together from around the world to proudly build an humble empire of authentic casino news.

Las Vegas Casinos are Back in Business After COVID-19 Hiatus

Las Vegas casinos are back to business after more than two months. On March 17, Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak ordered the shut-down of all non-essential businesses in the state due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, all of the nearly 140 Las Vegas casinos ended up closed to visitors for nearly three months.

The 2020 Las Vegas lockdown was the only time the entire Strip was shut down since the assassination of JFK. Even in 2017, when the Las Vegas shooting happened, not all casinos and resorts on the Strip decided to shut down.

Las Vegas Casinos Reopen to Public on Thursday

For nearly three months, Las Vegas was a real ghost town. In mid-March, all of Sin City’s casinos closed down, together with bars, restaurants, and even strip clubs. There was one strip club that tried to stay in the business during the lockdown, advertising “coronavirus-free” dancers, but it too had to shut down eventually.

The days of lockdown are finally over in Las Vegas, with casinos starting to reopen as of Thursday, June 4. Business, however, is not as usual. At least, not for the moment being. In order to be allowed to reopen, Las Vegas casinos are required to make some changes.

The Nevada Gaming Control Board has issued a plan for casino reopening that every venue needs to adhere to in order to be allowed to operate. Some of the requirements stipulated by this plan include a reduced number of visitors, increased frequency of cleaning, and so on.

Some Casinos Seem to Be Ignoring Social-Distancing Guidelines

Casinos, as well as players, were super-eager to get back to reopen the casino doors. Once that happened on Thursday, the enthusiasm caused people to break some social-distancing rules.

The footage from all over Las Vegas shows that people have been ignoring the new anti-coronavirus rules inside the casinos. Visitors seem to be gathering around in large groups, sitting next to each other while playing slots and other casino games.

The good news, however, is that all the evidence is pointing out that the casino staff has been at top of the game.

Sin City Hopeful of Recuperating from the Crisis

Everyone in Las Vegas seems to be thrilled by the news of casinos reopening. The reason is that the local economy is very reliant on the casino industry. According to the Nevada Resort Association, “no other state depends on tourism at the magnitude as Nevada.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused the state, and in particular its biggest city Las Vegas, billions of dollars in damage. So far, it’s estimated that Nevada has lost over $2 billion, with the potential economic damages measured in tens of billions of dollars.

The worst has passed, but now it’s time for the state to get back on its feet. Las Vegas casinos are open once again, but the number of tourists is still very low. The good news is that as the COVID-19 measures are loosening up, the number of visitors is expected to go upwards dramatically.

Grant Mahon

Grant is the self-professed casino madman and reporter that brought this eclectic team of dedicated and talented writers together from around the world to proudly build an humble empire of authentic casino news.

Ex-MGM Resorts CEO to Lead Nevada’s Coronavirus Task Force

  • COVID-19 prompts Nevada to shut down casinos and set up a relief task force
  • Former MGM CEO Jim Murren appointed head of the task force
  • Murren’s expertise will help contain the outbreak, Nevada Gov. Sisolak says

In light of the COVID-19 outbreak, the now-retired MGM CEO Jim Murren has been selected for the job of heading the coronavirus relief effort in Nevada.

MGM’s Former Number One at the Helm of Nevada’s COVID-19 Task Force

Jim Murren will be leading the newly established COVID-19 Response and Recovery Task Force, announced Governor Steve Sisolak this Sunday afternoon, following the closure of Nevada’s casino for 30 days. According to Gov. Sisolak, the experience that Murren has in a handful of industries will help Nevada’s healthcare system and ultimately lead to containing the outbreak.

Murren became a part of MGM in 2008 and for the past 12 years as CEO. It wasn’t long after his retirement in February that he was appointed a head of the new task force. Gov. Sisolak noted that Murren’s position is unpaid, voluntary and due to start straight away.

Murren’s first job on the list will be to allocate/source all of the useful assets from the private sector that can help in the fight with the coronavirus.

Considering Murren’s vast experience and contacts in Asia and the Middle East, it is expected from him to greatly help Nevada. Murren took part in a COVID-19 tourism industry round table with President Donald Trump and other White House leaders early in March so the announcement of Sisolak came at the right moment.

Gov. Sisolak noted that Murren will help the state receive the needed personal protection equipment, COVID-19 test kits and other essential supplies that the federal government cannot source currently. Sisolak also added: “Jim Murren can open doors that otherwise, I, as governor, can’t open up,”.

Some in Nevada Has Its Doubts About Addressing the Outbreak

Nevada state reaction was mixed as Jon Ralston, an old-timer editor and reported of The Nevada Independent questioned why a gaming insider such as Murren was picked. Ralston deemed that Gov. Sisolak was handling the crisis quite well so far but did note on Twitter that his announcement can face a bit of criticism.

Driven by fear of spreading the virus, states ordered the closing of many businesses and casinos. A lot of US leagues canceled their entire seasons or banned their fans from watching the games live, in person.

MGM did not stand idle by and took action to close all of its Strip casinos in Vegas. Only a few days after this decision, on Thursday, Sisolak ordered a state shut down for 30 days of all gambling establishments.

Murren noted that “There’s nothing more important right now than helping our state and each other through this crisis”. He continued with: “When we defeat this pandemic, I am confident that our state will come roaring back, as we have from the great hardships of the past.”

Aran Malik

“Magic Malik”—as we like to call him—is not only a tech whiz but a wizard when it comes to getting obscure news hot off the press so we know exactly what’s happening and can explore and report it back to our growing and loyal readerbase.