ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (WCBS 880) — For the first time in 108 days, slot machines will beep, dice will tumble and cards will be dealt at Atlantic City's casinos Thursday as they reopen amid a coronavirus pandemic.
Gamblers will not be allowed to smoke, drink or eat anything inside the casinos. Outdoor dining and takeout options will be available. They will have to wear masks and have their temperatures checked.
"You know obviously it's going to keep some people away, but we still have a lot of people that are anxious to get back to some type of normalcy," said Steve Callender who runs the Tropicana and is president of the New Jersey Casino Association.
This is will not be business as usual.
"You'll see plexiglass glass separating the players from the dealers," he said. "You won't be able to sit at a slot machine next to someone you don't know, every other slot machine will be shut down basically. There will be limited occupancy on the table games."
The state's 11th hour decision to ban food and drinks doesn't help.
"I won't say I'm not disappointed in it, and it will impact our business," said Callender, adding that he's convinced casinos are safe. "We're the most regulated industry in the state, we're very good at following protocols, the Division of Gaming Enforcement audits us and makes sure that we're complying with rules that we've established, we have multimillion dollar surveillance systems, we have more security personnel than any businesses in the state. We want to show that we can follow our rules and hopefully in a shorter amount of time than longer we will be able to get indoor dining at a limited capacity so that we could expand this normalcy."
Five of the nine casinos — Hard Rock, Ocean, Resorts, Tropicana and Golden Nugget — will open their doors Thursday morning.
Three others, Caesars, Bally's and Harrah's, will reopen Friday.
Only the Borgata will remain closed, having decided it can't operate as it wants to under state-imposed restrictions.