Atlantic City casinos should be encouraged by the results from a recent poll conducted by a local university.
A Stockton University survey found a majority of people who have visited the city’s nine casinos since the summer believe the industry’s coronavirus protocols are effective.
Phil Kening, Stockton faculty and lead researcher on the project, said the COVID-19 pandemic remains the primary reason previous visitors have not yet returned.
“Those who have visited since the casinos reopened say they were satisfied with the safety precautions in place,” Kening said.
Here is a closer look at the survey results:
Shining LIGHT on Atlantic City casinos
Stockton’s Lloyd D. Levenson Institute of Gaming, Hospitality and Tourism (LIGHT) surveyed 805 people who visited the DoAC website between the end of January and mid-February.
And out of that group, 42% said they visited Atlantic City casinos at least once since they reopened in July.
Of those that did make the trip, almost 80% said they were either “extremely satisfied” or “very satisfied.” This applies to the safety precautions in place while dining, gambling, or walking on the Boardwalk.
Jane Bokunewicz, coordinator of LIGHT, said the survey results indicate that visitors want to return and will return as long as they feel safe.
“The casinos and other dining and entertainment venues have done a good job implementing COVID-19 safety measures while also still providing the experiences visitors expect when they come to Atlantic City,” Bokunewicz said.
2020 was the ‘Year to Forget’ in AC
Last year will forever be remembered as a year like no other, especially when talking about Atlantic City.
Atlantic City casinos closed on March 16, 2020, as part of New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy’s COVID-19 executive order.
And they were permitted to reopen July 2 with capacity restrictions. However, Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa elected to remain closed until July 26.
The casinos all reopened with health and safety protocols approved by the state Division of Gaming Enforcement.
Sage advice for Atlantic City casinos
Even with the COVID-19 protocols in place, the casinos were and still are subject to other state-imposed business restrictions.
Indoor dining resumed in September but with only 25% capacity. Shortly after, restaurants and bars were forced to close at 10 p.m.
Casinos also had to stop serving beverages on the floor.
Meetings, conventions, and live entertainment have also been severely curtailed. At the moment, there is no timetable as to when those operations will resume. Yes, some of the casinos are offering some live entertainment, but the days of headlining acts and sold-out venues remain a work in progress.
On a positive note, the state has eased some restrictions as COVID-19 vaccines become more available.
Still, the casinos should not let their guard down and be lulled into a false sense of security.
“Even as restrictions are gradually lifted, and more people get a vaccine, the venues will still have to demonstrate that they are taking all necessary precautions to make visitors feel welcomed and safe,” Bokunewicz said.
An executive summary of the full survey results will be available Thursday, March 11, on the LIGHT website.