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The four women who run Atlantic City casinos pose for photos on the Atlantic City N.J. Boardwalk on Sept. 21, 2020: From left, to right they are: Jacqueline Grace of Tropicana; Terry Glebocki of Ocean Casino Resort; Karie Hall of Bally's, and Melonie Johnson of Borgata. Four of Atlantic City's nine casinos are run by women. (AP Photo/Wayne Parry).

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) — Atlantic City’s casinos saw their collective profits fall by more than 37% in the third quarter of this year as they reopened with capacity limits and costly measures designed to stem the coronavirus pandemic.

In figures released Monday by the state Division of Gaming Enforcement, each of the nine casinos still reported a gross operating profit. But for eight of them, that profit was less than it was in the third quarter of last year, when there was no pandemic and casinos were operating at full capacity.

The casinos collectively earned $150.5 million during July, August and September, down from $239.6 million a year ago.

Only one casino, the Ocean Casino Resort, increased its operating profit in the third quarter, from $10.2 million last year to $24.4 million this year.

“The data released today confirms what many have already suspected: The current public health crisis has both suppressed consumer demand for brick-and-mortar casino gaming and related amenities, and increased the costs of operating these services,” said Jane Bokunewicz, coordinator of a gambling and tourism institute at Stockton University. “This is a devastating equation for casino operators and their employees.”

James Plousis, chairman of the New Jersey Casino Control Commission, acknowledged the casinos were forced to make costly investments in order to reopen during the pandemic. But he said doing so “allowed for responsible management of the casino hotels, minimizing risk and building a foundation for a successful recovery.”

Gross operating profit represents earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and other expenses, and is a widely-accepted measure of profitability in the Atlantic City gambling industry.

Hard Rock’s gross operating profit fell 14.3% to $20.9 million; Harrah’s was down 41.5% to $19.3 million; Tropicana was down 43.8% to $18.2 million and Caesars was down 25% to $17.5 million.

Golden Nugget was down 11% to $16 million; Bally’s, which changed hands last week when Rhode Island-based Bally’s Corp. bought it from Caesars Entertainment, was down 8.3% to $13 million; Resorts was down 16.7% to $7.7 million, and the Borgata fell nearly 97% to $2.3 million.

The Borgata chose not to reopen on July 2 when most other casinos did, remaining closed while it adapted dining and other facilities to comply with virus precautions. It was the last Atlantic City casino to reopen, on July 26.

The Atlantic City casinos, like virtually all casinos in the country, are operating under restrictions due to the virus. They are restricted to 25% of capacity and cannot offer indoor dining or drinking after 10 p.m. under orders imposed by Gov. Phil Murphy.

They have also done things like install partitions and temperature-scanning cameras, and have turned off some slot machines to enforce social distancing.

Governments in several states have ordered their casinos to close as virus cases continue to increase.

For the first three quarters of this year, Atlantic City’s casinos saw their gross operating profits decline by nearly 86%, a figure that includes more than three months of closures during the late winter and spring.

The resort’s casino hotels averaged nearly 73% occupancy during the third quarter, with the Ocean casino having the highest average cost per room at nearly $246 a night; Resorts had the lowest average room rate at just over $112 a night.

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Follow Wayne Parry at http://twitter.com/WayneParryAC

The US casino industry continues to get hit with tough regulations. Most recently, state officials in New Jersey have begun setting new rules towards the casinos in Atlantic City. Moving forward, Atlantic City casino restaurants will need to close their indoor operations by 10 pm every night.

It’s a tough blow for these venues. Fortunately, the state isn’t requiring a complete shutdown. Today, we’re going to talk about why these new rules are being set in place.

Let’s get into it!

Sports Betting Remains Hugely Profitable for New Jersey

Many credit New Jersey with helping to revolutionize the US sports betting industry. Almost immediately after PASPA was struck down back in 2018, this state officially legalized and regulated this industry. It’s already proving to be hugely profitable for the state.

Words like poker face. We’ve been covering the growing sports betting revenue figures in New Jersey for months. To the surprise of many, these figures have increased throughout 2020. The sportsbooks here have seen their handle hit all-time records in both August and September.

It’s fantastic news for the state. New Jersey taxes sports betting revenue at 8.5% for land-based bets, and 13% for online sports wagers. As more revenue comes in, the state earns more money via taxes. This money goes to fund various public projects.

NFL betting is helping to fuel much of this revenue increase. We’re now in week 10 of the regular season. A huge amount of money is being placed on the regular-season games every single week.

Sports betting has helped to lessen the blow that casinos are feeling this year. As many already know, casino revenue has been much lower in 2020 than it was last year. No one can accurately say when land-based casinos will begin seeing their revenue figures reach pre-pandemic levels.

This week, a new regulation was announced that could have an effect on tourism rates in Atlantic City.

Gov. Murphy Orders Atlantic City Casino Restaurants to Change Hours

New Jersey was one of the worst-affected states from the pandemic early on. For months, nearly the entire state went into lockdown in an attempt to lower infection numbers. This proved to be devastating for Atlantic City and the thousands of individuals employed here.

Finally, in July, Governor Murphy gave the green light for the casinos in this city to begin operating again. As the weeks went on, more of the gambling properties began opening their doors. Today, all of New Jersey’s casinos are operational again.

Unfortunately, New Jersey has once again begun seeing a large spike in Covid-19 cases. As a result, the Governor has been forced to implement heavier restrictions. News has just broken that, beginning on Thursday, all Atlantic City casino restaurants will need to close their indoor operations by 10 pm.

This could affect tourism rates into the city. Many complain this measure does not make sense given the relatively low infection rates in Atlantic City. The Chamber of Commerce Southern New Jersey offered a statement on this new measure to the media this week.

“The CCSNJ respects Gov. Murphy’s decision to enact additional restrictions as the state again sees COVID-19 cases rise. However, the CCSNJ is disappointed that the governor has once again taken a statewide, one-size-fits-all approach, refusing to consider the vast disparities in health metrics throughout different geographical areas of the state,” the statement said. “The health and safety of New Jersey residents should always be the first priority, but there is no harm in assessing the data and making smart health and economic decisions that do not treat every area of the state similarly when the health data supports that approach.”

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Casinos may be thankful that another shutdown wasn’t ordered. For now, these venues can continue operating at limited capacity. We’ll offer more updates on the situation here over the next few weeks.

Are More Regulations Coming to Las Vegas?

In some ways, Las Vegas has been the city hardest-hit by the pandemic. So much of the economy here relies on tourism. Even today, tourism numbers are down considerably from what they were in 2019.

The casino companies operating here are certainly feeling the effects. Many have been forced to lay off thousands of employees. Some, including Encore Las Vegas, have started changing their operating hours as a way to save money.

Many fear that new regulations will soon be announced here. Infection rates have been increasing in recent weeks. State leaders will need to weigh the pros and cons of implementing health protocols.

Doing so could prove devastating for the gambling and tourism industry in Las Vegas. We’ll need to wait and see what ends up taking place in this city. Hopefully, the casinos can remain open while keeping things as safe as possible for employees and patrons.

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Beginning on Thursday, all Atlantic City casino restaurants will need to stop operating indoors at 10 pm. This measure will remain in place until further notice.

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Are you surprised to see more regulations set in place in New Jersey? Do you think this new rule will affect tourism here? Let us know in the comments section below!