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New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy has given casinos in the state the green light to reopen ahead of the Independence Day weekend. 

Venues in the Garden State have had their doors shut since March 16th, when a rule banning gatherings of over 50 people was implemented. 

The above order was carried out to reduce the spread of COVID-19, and safety measures – including only being able to operate at a limited capacity – will be enforced. 

The state’s 50-person gathering rule has been slightly relaxed indoors, while outdoor meetings will also be allowed to include more people. 

What exactly do New Jersey’s indoor and outdoor gathering rules entail?

Indoor venues are allowed to operate at a maximum capacity of 25%, with gatherings not allowed to exceed 100. 

As for outdoor gatherings, this has been relaxed to allow 250 people instead of 100. 

“We are not going to tolerate any knuckleheads” 

At the time of writing, New Jersey has recorded 169,000 cases of COVID-19. 12,895 deaths have been linked to the pandemic.

Earlier this month, the State Governor had mentioned that he was hopeful casinos would be able to open in July. 

As CBS Philly has reported, lowering cases and fewer hospital admissions means that the state is now in a position where it can move forward with the latter part of its stage two recovery phase. This will involve indoor dining spaces also being able to reopen, though again at a limited capacity.

Murphy acknowledged that despite casinos being allowed to welcome back customers, the coronavirus threat hasn’t fully dissipated. 

He had the following to say. 

“While we are still in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the common-sense public health measures that New Jerseyans have been complying with are now allowing for us to expand capacity limits.

“We will continue to evaluate and make reopening decisions based on data, science, and facts.

“You should also expect capacity limits to ensure social distancing while inside the casinos, among other measures. 

“If any visitor refuses to comply with these simple safeguards, you will be escorted out of the casino. We are not going to tolerate any knuckleheads.”

Safety measures 

A lot of casinos in Atlantic City have been making their own preparations for reopening, which includes how they plan to adhere to safety measures and reduce the risk of spreading the virus. 

Hard Rock Cafe will order all employees and guests to wear face masks. However, other venues have said that they will recommend such coverings – rather than making them mandatory. 

Hard Rock Casino President Joe Lupo believes that the venue will exceed whatever official regulations are enforced. 

“Our air filtration is better than most hospitals.

“With 85% of our customers being rated, we can provide details on when they played, for how long, which beverage servers were in the vicinity, which room they stayed in, where they ate.” 

New Jersey casinos performing strongly online

The closure of land-based casinos in New Jersey, as well as limited sports betting options, means that the state’s industry has relied on online casino games for much of the past few months. 

In May, online poker and casino revenue combined fell just short of $86 million. This was a monthly record. Sportsbooks contributed an extra $10 million to the state’s gaming revenue. 

Online casinos made $81.4 million, representing a 124% year-on-year increase. Moreover, this figure was 7.4% higher than had been the case in April 2020. 

Meanwhile, online poker’s revenue of $4.5 million was 151% higher than in May 2020. However, this represented a 12% drop on this year’s figure for April. 

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