Atlantic City casinos are finally reopening this week.
For those who lost count, the grand total for this shut down is 107 days. All thanks to the COVID-19 global pandemic.
The decision is a result of Gov. Phil Murphy’s Monday announcement to delay the scheduled July 2 resumption of indoor dining.
No matter which casino is your preferred destination, all of them must follow the Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) guidelines and protocols.
Play NJ received a copy, which you can read in full here.
In preparing for the reopening, every hotel and casino complex is required to go through a thorough cleaning and disinfecting process.
This means each property “must be in accordance with the guidelines published by the CDC for ‘Cleaning and Disinfecting Your Facility.'”
But the DGE guidelines cover more than just how to keep Atlantic City casinos clean. It also goes into detail on the following:
- What 25% capacity means
- Guest requirements
- Changes to casino policies
Breaking down the 25% capacity rule
Typically, Fourth of July weekend is one of the busiest times of the year at the Jersey Shore. Unfortunately, the 2020 version will be sans fireworks.
And once the 25% capacity limits are factored into the equation, the crowds become smaller.
Basically, each property is required to limit the total number of aggregate patrons or guests. Employees do not count. Hotel rooms are not included in the count either.
The areas impacted include public areas such as:
- Hotel lobbies
- Casino floors
- Simulcasting facilities
- Poker rooms
The total amount of people permitted is based on the occupancy limits established by the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs.
Atlantic City casino floor guidelines
Here is a look at what to expect at AC casinos:
- Three players per blackjack/Pai Gow poker table
- Four players per roulette table
- Four players per poker table
- Six players per craps table (with no more than three on each side) when the table is less than 14 feet in length
And besides the player limits, each casino license holder will remind unrelated guests to maintain physical distancing.
Customers also will notice fewer slot machines being turned back on, which is part of the DGE guidelines. Here are the basics:
- At a minimum, each casino licensee is required to have one vacant position between a single guest (playing up to three slot machines in a row) or a group of related guests.
- The casino will limit the use of certain machines to implement the restrictions. (this includes signage on unavailable machines).
- Casinos will have assigned employees to clean and disinfect the machines (using Environmental Protection Agency registered disinfectants).
- Casino hotel security or other personnel will ensure that guests do not congregate around machines.
As expected, sanitizer stations will be located throughout each complex, too.
As a side note, food or drinks will not be available anywhere in the casino. Smoking is also not allowed. Take-out dining is an option still but the food must be eaten outside the casino or in the hotel room.
But none of these guidelines come as a surprise. Actually, the focus of the last few months has centered around restart plans. Casinos have been doing their part by implementing safety plans as of May. And most of them include bits and pieces of the DGE guidelines already.
And Borgata, once it finally does reopen, will follow MGM’s seven-point safety plan.
What about Atlantic City sportsbooks?
NJ sports betting fans are getting a double dose of good news.
For one, the NBA, NHL along with the MLB remain on track for a July restart.
And as an added bonus, Atlantic City sportsbooks can resume operations. Moneyline Bar & Book at the Borgata will need to wait.
As far as guidelines go, here are the basics:
- Guests/groups need to remain at least six feet apart.
- No food will be served in a sportsbook lounge. This works in tandem with the general no food, no drink rule.
- Employees will be assigned to clean and disinfect guest contact points and high-touch surfaces.
- Betting kiosks will need to be cleaned no less than every four hours.
- Guests may request the cleaning of a particular seating area or kiosk.
What guests need to know before entering an AC casino
When customers return to Atlantic City casinos later this week, there will be strict protocols for them, too.
But instead of touching on everything addressed by the DGE, we will touch on the highlights.
The most important, of course, will be the COVID-19 screening. Some of the properties are using thermal screening technology.
Visitors may be asked questions by casino personnel before entering the property. And if you answer yes to any of those questions, you will be prohibited from entering the casino and told to seek medical attention for your safety and the safety of others.
Guests that have severe symptoms, however, will be quarantined within the casino. And that includes anyone who had close contact with said guest.
As Murphy makes crystal clear during his daily briefings, guests will be required to wear masks in all public areas.
Wearing a mask is proven to help protect others around you.
When you’re outdoors in an area where social distancing is harder to maintain – like on a crowded boardwalk – you should wear one.
When you’re indoors, you MUST wear one. If you’re not, you’ll be refused service. pic.twitter.com/inAmFUXLMn
— Governor Phil Murphy (@GovMurphy) June 24, 2020
Atlantic City casinos will need to have a supply of masks on hand in case any guest needs one.
And in places where lines of guests form (such as the casino cage, front desk, and promotions booth) there will be signage or indicators prominently displaying social distancing measures.
Anyone “not adhering to physical distancing and any other requirements will be advised of the requirements, and warned that, if they continue to disregard the requirements, they will be asked to leave the casino hotel complex.”
This is just a small sampling of what Atlantic City’s road back is going to look like. The guidelines go into great detail about required cleaning, employee health checks and the like.
So this is just the first step.
AC casinos and their guests are looking forward to the days when indoor dining, live entertainment, valet parking, and 100% capacity will be allowed again.
Who knows when that will be.
Hey, Atlantic City being back in business is a good start.