A group composed of local officials, casino executives, and labor unions have asked Gov. Phil Murphy to ease restrictions on indoor gatherings so that conventions, meetings, and trade shows can resume in Atlantic City and so restaurants can accommodate more customers.
According to the group, if the current restrictions will be retained, businesses will incur significant losses, more jobs could be lost, and the economy will take longer to recover.
Said Assemblymen Vince Mazzeo and John Armato in a letter to the Governor:
“Without the convention and meeting industry, the negative economic impact to both large and small businesses, including lost wages, will be devastating to the market and residents of Atlantic City and Atlantic County,”
Added Mark Gianntonio, President and CEO of Resorts Casino Hotel:
“The casino industry has developed the most stringent health and safety protocols with the guidance of top healthcare experts. We have successfully and safely welcomed back indoor dining, and now is the time to begin to safely welcome back the convention and meeting business.”
Time of the Year For Conventions
November is traditionally the the time of year when Atlantic City is busy hosting multi-day conventions, bringing in thousands of visitors who would stay in hotels, patronize local restaurants and shops, and even finding their way to Atlantic City casinos. But because of the COVID-19 pandemic, conventions are still prohibited right now.
On a normal year, the New Jersey State League of Municipalities’ and New Jersey Education Association would be in AC holding their conventions this month. However, they have resorted to holding virtual conventions due to the pandemic. Those are just the tip of the iceberg.
Lost Economic Activity
According to an estimate from Meet AC, the sales and marketing organization of AC’s resorts, more than $182M in economic activity has been lost up to last week from cancelled conventions and meetings this year. This figure does not even include the canceled events at the casinos and the $112M that Atlantic City casinos lost during their forced closure from March to June this year.
The resorts have struggled with the 25% restriction in their properties and the total absence of conventions. Casino gaming has not returned to pre-pandemic figures mainly due to the restriction of travel and fear of contracting the COVID-19 virus. Because of this, Atlantic City casinos have been forced to cut jobs to mitigate losses. Last month, Atlantic City’s casinos reported a net decrease of 17.5% in employment versus 2019 figures.