Atlantic City June 2020
Casinos to reopen July 2
Though at 25 percent capacity, and with additional health and safety guidelines to be announced, Atlantic City’s casinos can reopen on Thursday, July 2, according to a directive from New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy. “The further health and safety protocols that will allow for the casinos to reopen are currently being drafted and will be released within the next several days,” said Murphy.
“You should fully expect that they will include mandatory face coverings and masks, and health screenings for all visitors and staff. If any visitor refuses to comply with these simple safeguards, [they] will be escorted out of the casino,” said Murphy. “We are not going to tolerate any knuckleheads trying to ruin it for those who want to enjoy themselves responsibly and those who need to get back to work, especially if those knuckleheads could be spreading COVID-19.”
[Breaking News] | Atlantic City casinos to reopen July 2
As of June 23, only Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa has announced reopening plans. Borgata won’t open its doors to the general public until 10 a.m. (local time) Monday, July 6. The Borgata will host an invitation-only trial period starting July 2. The general public will have to wait until 10 a.m. on Monday, July 6, to get in.
The Borgata is taking advantage of a “friends and family” period authorized by the state – otherwise known as a “soft opening” – by having invitation-only days during which the casino can assess its new procedures and how well they are working in the new environment. The casino said not all its amenities will be open right away. It plans to phase in some of them over the coming weeks as it becomes evident how business levels and customer compliance with health and safety regulations are unfolding. (Updated 23 June 2020)
Baumann approved for New Jersey casino license
Ronald Baumann, Caesars Entertainment Corporation’s regional president and CEO of Bally’s Atlantic City, Caesars Atlantic City and Harrah’s Resort, has been approved for a casino license by the New Jersey Casino Control Commission. “It is both a privilege and an honor to be granted and to hold a gaming license in the state of New Jersey, and I want to thank both the commission and the [Division of Gaming Enforcement] for granting my key license today,” Baumann said in a statement. “I am looking forward to safely reopening and operating our facilities with our health and wellness protocols for our team and guests.”
Mayor signs temporary open container order
Atlantic City June 2020
Atlantic City Mayor Marty Small Sr. has issued an executive order temporarily permitting open consumption of alcoholic beverages on the Boardwalk between Sovereign and Rhode Island Avenues, nonresidential areas of Gardner’s Basin, and the Orange Loop (New York Avenue, Tennessee Avenue and St. James Place). Further, the New Jersey General Assembly has passed a bill to make the change permanent. Beverages must be in a plastic container bearing the name or logo of the licensed seller within the open container zones. The order does not authorize the consumption of alcohol in a motor vehicle that is within the open container zone. Until the state Senate also passes a bill, and the governor signs it, the city’s executive order will expire in November, or whenever coronavirus-related restrictions on bars and restaurants are lifted by the governor, whichever comes first. (Updated 20 June 2020)
HardRockCasino.com is celebrating its second anniversary by giving away two 2020 Mustang EcoBoost Coupes, $50,000 in bonus cash, double comp dollars and tier points, and double the welcome offer. The celebration kicked off on Friday, June 12, and concludes on Sunday, June 28, Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City’s second anniversary.
Atlantic City Signature Event rescheduled
The Atlantic City Seven Stars Signature Event has been rescheduled for Thursday, Oct. 1, to Sunday, Oct. 4. The Event originally was scheduled for Thursday, June 11, to Sunday, June 14. A new program is in the process of being finalized, so check this website periodically for up-to-date information.
Tolls increasing on three New Jersey highways
Tolls are going up on New Jersey’s three major highways. Effective, Sunday, Sept. 13, the South Jersey Transportation Authority is increasing tolls on the Atlantic City Expressway by 37 percent. Tolls also are increasing by 37 percent on the New Jersey Turnpike and 27 percent on the Garden State Parkway. The increases will fund capital improvement projects.
Who wants to be a millionaire
A Golden Nugget online casino player won $1 million from a single spin playing the video slot game Pillars of Asgard. Since regulated online casinos became legal in New Jersey, this is the largest online non-progressive video slots win in the United States. Scotty W., from Bridgeton, N.J., was supposed to be on a cruise, but, with travel suspended, he found himself at home playing online.
Scotty played for about an hour when he hit the bonus feature beginning with 23 free spins. Then the retrigger went up to 55 free spins, while the multiplier kept increasing until it hit 25,000. He plans to buy a retirement home in Florida. In August Scotty won the “Mustang Giveaway” on GoldenNuggetCasino.com, driving away in a new blue Mustang. Golden Nugget’s online casino has seen a 60 percent surge in players following the temporary closure of Atlantic City’s casinos.
Water, water everywhere
The owner of Atlantic City’s Showboat Hotel plans to build a $100 million year-round indoor water park on the existing parking lot between the Showboat and Ocean Casino Resort. Ground-breaking is scheduled for August and the yet-unnamed development would be connected to the adjacent Showboat. Located at the north end of the Boardwalk in an area casino and city leaders have been trying to revitalize, the resort is aimed at vacationing families who find little to do in Atlantic City, Blatstein told The Associated Press. “This will open up a whole new market that doesn’t exist,” he says.
Instead of expiring Thursday, Dec. 31, 2020, 2020 tier level status and benefits that are part of Tropicana’s Trop Advantage program will be extended through Friday, Dec. 31, 2021. In other words, any benefits you earned through your play in 2019, but haven’t yet used, will be available to you through Dec. 31, 2021. The same will be true for any benefits you earn through your play in 2020. In addition, to make it easier to earn tier status for 2021 (through your play in calendar year 2020), the number of tier credits required for each level is being reduced:
- Copper: Instead of 4,000, you now need to earn 3,200.
- Gold: Instead of 20,000, you now need to earn 16,000.
- Platinum: Instead of 100,000, you now need to earn 80,000.
- Black: Instead of 450,000, you now need to earn 360,000.
In any event, whatever tier level you currently have, you will continue to retain that level through Dec. 31, 2021, but not necessarily the same set of benefits (unless you earned them again through your play during 2020). Should you earn a higher level through your play by Dec. 31, 2020, you will get that higher level card, as well as the associated benefits.
In addition, Trop Dollars will not expire for three months of inactivity until – at the earliest – Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2020, and Comp Dollars will not expire for six months of inactivity until Sept. 1, 2020.
Hard Rock extends player benefits
Wild Card Rewards earned comp dollars and free play will not expire while Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City remains temporarily closed. Both will be available through a date not earlier than Monday, Sept. 7, 2020. In addition, the tier earning period has been extended to Thursday, Dec. 31, 2020. Players will keep their current tier status until the end of the year or elevate to a higher tier level based on earnings for the balance of 2020. And, effective immediately, resort fees for all future hotel stays will be waived for Rock Royalty and X Card Wild Card Rewards cardholders.
Atlantic City Seven Stars Signature Event postponed
The Atlantic City Seven Stars Signature Event, originally scheduled for June 11 to 14, has been postponed due to COVID-19. New Event dates and a revised itinerary are being developed and will be communicated later.
Phish postpones 2020 beach concert in Atlantic City
Phish has postponed its 2020 summer tour schedule, including a scheduled three-day beach concert Aug. 14 to 16 in Atlantic City. The shows have been rescheduled for Aug. 13 to 15, 2021. “Due to the ongoing pandemic, we sadly have made the difficult decision to reschedule Phish’s entire 2020 summer tour, now moving to the summer of 2021,” the band said in a statement on its website. “We’ve been as excited as ever to play music for you all, and are so heartbroken to postpone these dates. The health and well-being of Phish fans, our touring crew, and the communities in which the band plays is our top concern.” Tickets will be honored for the new dates, or if concertgoers can’t make it, they’ll be able to request a refund. Ticket holders will receive an email with the details. Visit LiveNation.com/refund for more information.
WSOP Global Casino Championship to move online
The World Series of Poker season-ending Global Casino Championship, originally scheduled to run Tuesday to Thursday, Aug. 11 to 13, at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort in North Carolina, now will be held online at WSOP.com on Sunday, Sept. 13. The event features a $1 million guaranteed prize pool and awards a WSOP gold bracelet. The new Season Finale Online Circuit series, with 12 gold ring events, will feature 12 ring-event winners and the WSOP Online “Casino Champion.” For details, click here.
WSOP to launch online poker ‘festival’
In addition, and as an alternative to the postponed World Series of Poker, WSOP will hold a World Series of Poker Online – a two-month poker “festival.” Described as one of the largest online tournament series of all time, WSOP Online will offer a prize pool of $134 million, media coverage for online events and the chance to win gold bracelets across two gaming platforms, WSOP.com and GGPoker. In the United States, WSOP.com only allows play from customers located in Nevada and New Jersey. Kicking off Wednesday, July 1, and continuing throughout the month, the WSOP Online tournament’s North American network will schedule one bracelet event per day.
On Sunday, July 19, WSOP Online tournaments will launch on the GGPoker network. The international series will run through Sunday, Sept. 6, and mark the first time that players outside the United States have been able to compete for an official WSOP bracelet online. GGPoker will unveil its bracelet schedule on a rolling basis and will have a broad range of buy-ins and game formats.
Play from the United States on the GGPoker platform is prohibited. Satellites to WSOP bracelet events start as low as $1. WSOP also will offer $100,000 of added prize money for the top performers across all eligible online bracelet events in July. In addition to other July promotions, players will be offered multiple reload bonuses in July.
The online tournament will provide extensive media coverage via Poker Central, the WSOP’s production partner, including live streams, highlight packages, and pilot episodes earmarked for TV. Poker Central also will schedule virtual “bracelet ceremonies” and interviews with each winner. For more details on North American events and for the complete schedule, click here.
Caesars Rewards sponsors GMA Summer Concert Series
Caesars Rewards Loyalty Program is sponsoring the Summer 2020 Concert Series Fridays on ABC-TV’s Good Morning America. The series – taking place virtually this year – will feature such performers as John Legend, Mariah Carey, Sia, Kygo featuring OneRepublic and Valerie Broussard, Bebe Rexha, Billie Joe Armstrong, the Black Eyed Peas, Old Dominion, Ellie Goulding, Megan Thee Stallion, Shaggy featuring Sting, and Skip Marley and H.E.R. Additional performances are to be announced.
Caesars-Eldorado merger still on track
While the CEO of Eldorado Resorts Inc. admits the company had considered the prospects of pulling the plug on its $17.3 billion merger with Caesars Entertainment Corp., the notion was quickly dismissed. “We analyze every possible scenario,” Eldorado CEO Tom Reeg said, and financing for the transaction is still in place. “It’s very clear to us the best option is to continue and close the Caesars transaction,” Reeg said.
“Everything we liked about the deal still holds up, and we’re looking forward to closing the transaction and getting underway.” Eldorado has long targeted the end of June for closing the deal, but Reeg now hints there is a slight chance the closing could fall into July if one of three regulatory agencies in Nevada, New Jersey or Indiana is not able to get the transaction on its agenda this month. Reeg also said he was hopeful the FTC would grant its approval.
Canadian cruise ship ban extended through October
Canada’s Transport Minister Marc Garneau announced last month that cruise ships with 100 passengers or more will be banned in Canadian waters until Sunday, Nov. 1, “to ensure that Canadians and our transportation system remain safe and secure.”
He said that he understood this will have a big economic impact on the tourism industry and that the Canadian government is looking at what to do about that. A similar ban was first announced in March along with other travel restrictions, when Garneau initially put a ban on ships with 500 passengers or more docking in Canadian waters through Friday, July 31.
NCL introduces Peace of Mind program
As part of their new Peace of Mind program, when they resume sailing, Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania and Regent Seven Seas will introduce new health and safety protocols. The six-point program will cover every aspect of cruising, from check-in to embarkation, as well as onboard procedures and services. Passengers won’t be required to wear masks, but they will be required to observe social distancing in all public areas. Here’s a summary of the new protocols:
- Norwegian will institute pre-embarkation health screening and touchless temperature checks at various times, including prior to embarkation and disembarkation; upon returning to the ship at any port of call, prior to activities in public venues, and prior to meals in all dining venues. The crew also will be required to participate in extended health screenings, including a more comprehensive Pre-Employment Medical Examination process, temperature checks throughout the day and COVID-19 testing throughout their contracts.
- To implement its policy of responsible social distancing while onboard, NCL will be reducing capacity across its fleet and limiting capacity in all public areas throughout the voyage.
- Embarkations will be staggered, and advanced online check-in procedures will be implemented to ensure crowding at the terminal doesn’t become an issue.
- Sanitization will be increased throughout the voyage, with all vessels thoroughly cleaned and disinfected prior to the start of every cruise. Terminals will be sanitized continuously and, where possible, fogged before and after each embarkation and disembarkation. All staterooms, suites and public areas will be disinfected at an increased frequency with Electrostatic Spray technology. Fogging will use hypochlorous acid (HOCl), a non-toxic oxidant that kills bacteria, spores and viruses. Natural and safe to use in open areas, it’s comprised of natural elements such as water and salt, and electric charge.
- Buffets and beverage service stations no longer will be self-serve; crew members will serve passengers.
- Passengers will be encouraged to wash hands frequently throughout the day, and hand sanitizer will be prominently placed throughout the ship.
In addition, Norwegian will use H13 HEPA medical-grade air filters which are designed to remove 99.95 percent of airborne pathogens. Finally, Norwegian will create an entirely new position. A Public Health Officer will be responsible for sanitization oversight and outbreak prevention onboard, and will be in charge of the overall day-to-day cleanliness of the vessel in compliance with the CDC’s Vessel Sanitation Program.
The line also will equip its vessels with additional onsite COVID-19 tests, and an increased inventory of vaccinations and medications, including those eventually approved to treat COVID-19. Norwegian also will work with local governments to ensure health and safety policies in each of its ports of call are respected and adhered to. NCL says it is committed to visiting only safe ports of call that are designated as open and actively welcoming visitors. The company said that this may cause itinerary changes to future voyages, but that it will work to inform passengers in a timely manner.
The American Gaming Association (AGA) is calling on the government to increase the $1,200 threshold for reporting slot jackpot wins. Players who win a larger jackpot have to submit a W2-G. AGA Chief Executive and President Bill Miller says the increase would be especially important now that casinos are beginning to reopen.
“The current threshold is outdated and imposes significant compliance burdens on both the Internal Revenue Service and the gaming industry.”
The AGA argues that if the threshold limit of $1,200 from 1977 were adjusted for inflation, the current starting point would be greater than $5,000. It points out that the number of reportable jackpots has increased significantly in recent years, while the threshold figure has remained the same.
What’s happening, what’s not
While Luke Bryan’s Atlantic City Beach Concert is still scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 22, and the Atlantic City Air Show is still scheduled for Wednesday, Aug. 26, there are a number of other events which have been rescheduled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Rescheduled later this year
The Atlantic City Beer & Music Festival has been rescheduled to Friday and Saturday, Aug. 7 and 8. Details: ACBeerfest.com.
Rescheduled next year
Atlantic Cape Community College’s Annual Restaurant Gala, a tradition for 37 years, will not be held this year. The annual gala will return on Thursday, March 11.
The Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Rock ’n’ Roll Atlantic City Half Marathon has been rescheduled to May 14 and 15.
The Phish Atlantic City Beach Concert has been rescheduled to Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 13 to 15. Details: ACBeachConcerts.com.
Recreational gambler Darryl D. McEwen is publisher of the Seven Stars Insider – both the website (SevenStarsInsider.com) and the monthly newsletter. For a free subscription to the newsletter, email him at SevenStarsInsider@gmail.com and tell him how you heard about it. You also can download the newsletter from the website where he frequently updates news about Caesars Entertainment Corp., Eldorado Resorts Inc. and Caesars Rewards under “Latest News” on the Home page. In addition, be sure to follow @7StarsInsider on Twitter. Darryl also writes a bi-weekly column, Mr. AC Casino, for the Atlantic City Weekly. The companion website is MrACCasino.com and the matching Twitter account is @MrACCasino. A former professional journalist, based in Wilmington, Del., Darryl is president of his own consulting firm that manages several small national and international trade associations, and provides public relations and fundraising services for a number of charitable organizations.