With this week marking the one-year anniversary of the first reported case of COVID-19 in New Jersey, a new study shows how the pandemic has had an impact in and around the Atlantic City area.
The Lloyd D. Levenson Institute for Gaming, Hospitality and Tourism (LIGHT) at Stockton University in Galloway released a one-year retrospective this week on the impact of COVID-19 on the Atlantic City area in terms of visitors, travel, gaming and revenue.
Casinos in Atlantic City were closed on March 16, 2020, as part of Gov. Phil Murphy’s COVID-19 executive order. They reopened July 2, but with capacity restrictions in place. Murphy recently announced that capacity limits could increase.
Among the highlights of the report, according to a news release:
- Revenue from in-person gaming dropped 48%; revenue from remote gaming rose almost 92%.
- There were 82% fewer meetings and trades shows — just 32 from February 2020-21, compared with 297 from February 2019-20. Nearly 600,000 fewer people attended meetings and conventions, representing a loss of almost $260 million in visitor spending.
- Total vehicle count on the Atlantic City Expressway Pleasantville toll plaza reflect the pattern of COVID-19 infections in New Jersey. The vehicle count was 73% lower in April 2020 than in April 2019, rebounded through the summer, then dropped again during the “second wave” of virus infections.
“This report tells a story of fewer public gatherings, a shift to virtual/remote activities and the loss of thousands of jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars in the service sector,” LIGHT coordinator Jane Bokunewicz said in the release. “But, after the most challenging year in the history of casino gaming in Atlantic City, there are signs that a recovery is in sight.”
Casino Capacity Increased
Murphy announced last week that capacity limits would increase to 50% at casinos, bars and restaurants in New Jersey beginning Friday — the second day of the men's NCAA Basketball Tournament (Thursday had the play-in games). The 2020 NCAA Tournament was canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic.
An earlier survey from LIGHT, released on March 8, showed that more than 70% percent of the respondents plan to visit Atlantic City within the next six months.
Of the respondents to that survey, 42% said they had visited Atlantic City at least once since the July reopening. The remaining respondents cited COVID-19 as why they did not visit Atlantic City. Of those that did visit, almost 80% said they were either “extremely satisfied” or “very satisfied” with the safety precautions in place.