Some Atlantic City Casinos May Not Survive Coronavirus
The coronavirus lockdown could cost New Jersey $540 million a month in casino-related revenues, and one expert predicts some casinos in Atlantic City may not survive.
Atlantic City is a ghost town these days due to the Covid-19 outbreak, and the state could lose $540 million per month in casino-related revenues as the lockdown continues, says the American Gaming Association.
The mandatory casino closure has left more than 26,000 casino workers jobless and will take a big bite out of the $3 billion industry.
“We haven’t seen it play out yet, but if you look at the economic numbers that are going to start coming out, this portends to be a worse economic downturn than we even saw in the Great Recession,” Clyde Barrow, a professor at University of Texas Rio Grande Valley and an expert on the casino industry, told the New York Post. “It will be the biggest blow to the casino industry that we’ve seen in a lifetime.”
Casey Clark, vice president of strategic communications for the AGA, said in a statement he remained hopeful that the casino business would rebound as it did after the recession, calling the industry “incredibly resilient.”
“Right now, we’re focused on working with the federal government so that all corners of the industry have the ability to weather this unprecedented public health crisis,” Clark said.
Still, the industry nationwide could lose more than $43 billion in revenue over the next two months if the Covid-19 crisis continues, according to a report in The Hill last month.
“Nothing is like it was before,” said Jose Torres, of Cafe di Roma in Atlantic City. “Everything has changed. Workers are only working three days as people are scared to come out. But as long as they let us keep open, we’ll stay open.”
Barrow said it’s a safe bet the pandemic will put some of the casinos out of business for good.
“Some may go into bankruptcy, as happened back in 2006 and 2010.”
In related news, at an emergency meeting April 7, the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority allocated $2 million in grants for small-business recovery in Atlantic County. The board also approved more than $60,000 for food assistance and homeless outreach in Atlantic City, according to the Press of Atlantic City.
In addition, CRDA signed a deal with the state Department of Health and Spectra Venue Management for the operation of a federally-run field hospital at the Atlantic City Convention Center for non-Covid-19 patients.
“I think the actions that this board took demonstrate our willingness and our ability to have compassion and understanding for the people in Atlantic City and Atlantic County, and our desire to be helpful in this crisis,” Board Chairman Robert Mulcahy said.
The small business grants will be administered by the New Jersey Economic Development Authority as part of its statewide recovery response. More than 1,000 small businesses in Atlantic County have applied for the $5,000 grants since the process began April 3, said CRDA Executive Director Matt Doherty.
Conversion of the Convention Center into a 250-bed field hospital has begun. The site, selected by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as a regional medical center, has the capacity for up to 3,000 beds, and could be ready this week.