Atlantic City May 2020
While, as of May 2nd, no official announcement has been made as to when Atlantic City’s casinos will reopen, Las Vegas casinos may give some clues to what customers and employees can expect here once plans are formulated to reopen the resort’s casinos.
MGM has canceled all Las Vegas reservations through May 21, but will allow hotel reservations with an arrival date beginning June 1. Wynn is taking reservations beginning Friday, May 22, for Memorial Day weekend.
Meanwhile, Caesars Entertainment properties – both in Atlantic City and Las Vegas – are taking reservations beginning May 15, as is the Golden Nugget Casino, Hotel & Marina and Ocean Casino Resort. Tropicana Atlantic City is taking reservations beginning June 1, and Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa, Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City, and Resorts Casino Hotel are taking future reservations for unspecified future dates, but with generous cancellation policies.
But, what can you expect once you enter a casino?
Wynn Resorts Ltd. CEO Matt Maddox plans to limit the number of entrances and install thermal cameras, testing those with temperatures greater than 100 degrees in a private area, and turning away those who still show high temperatures.
Guests will be advised to stand at least six feet apart, and the company will spread out restaurant tables and slot machines, as well as change other physical layouts to ensure people can maintain a safe distance. Plans also include placing hand sanitizer dispensers throughout the property, as well as prominently displaying health and hygiene reminders.
All employees, as well as customers, will be required to wear a mask provided by Wynn.
As an extra precaution, Wynn employees have been given “clear instructions on how to respond swiftly and report all presumed cases of COVID-19 on property to the Southern Nevada Health District,” according to a statement, and they have been instructed to stay home if they don’t feel well.
Employees also have been told to contact a manager if they notice themselves, a guest or another employee displaying symptoms of the virus.
Health and Safety Guidelines
The new health and safety guidelines rely “on the best available science on sanitization methods in consultation with professional infectious disease experts,” Maddox said. The company plans to refine the plan as it continues to get updates from experts.
In an interview from Caesars Palace on “NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt” last month, Caesars Entertainment Corp. CEO Tony Rodio said to look for more social distancing, e.g., every other slot machine operational, three players to a table at every other table, etc.
MGM Resorts International acting CEO Bill Hornbuckle told employees, “[O]ur industry will likely change for the foreseeable future.” Without going into detail, Hornbuckle added, “What it means to provide good customer service will change – everything from how often we clean to how we greet our guests.” Hornbuckle said the way casino floors and restaurants operate also with change – though he didn’t say how, but reopening MGM’s casinos in Las Vegas could come with guests and employees wearing facial protection, while workers constantly sanitize gambling machines and the casino floor.
“The history of this pandemic has yet to be written,” Hornbuckle added. “Now is the time to follow the public health guidelines, even when they are challenging. The decisions we’re making today are about ensuring that we have the resources to not just reopen, but to operate successfully for the long term, until we recover.”
If they open, will anyone come?
Other industry observers, politicians and customers have weighed in on how they see casinos – and life in general – changing as a result of the coronavirus. Among their observations:
Gen X (depending on the source, those born between 1960 and 1985) and Millennials (again, depending on the source, those born between 1981 and 1996) will be first to return to casinos, restaurants and other public places on a regular basis. “Older generations” will be reticent or unable to return.
Casinos will have to figure out how to clean and sanitize buttons and handles on slot machines, playing cards, gaming chips, and other surfaces – and keep them clean – so customers feel safe.
Manufacturers will develop new gaming products that outperform slots economically, but still are licensable and fun to play.
So-called “stadium gaming” will become more popular as players are able to distance themselves from other gamblers, but still participate in roulette, craps, baccarat, sic bo, and other traditional “table games.”
Revenue from online gaming – where legal – will continue to be more profitable than from land-based casinos. In March, for example, Atlantic City casino gaming revenue was down 42.7 percent compared to the year before; online gaming revenue was up 65.6 percent.
States that have not legalized online gaming will fast-track legislation to remain competitive and boost their tax revenue.
Smoking may no longer be tolerated or extremely limited. Second-hand smoke could be even more dangerous when additional toxins are spewed into the air.
Casinos will have to rethink their showroom entertainment and private parties. Social-distancing will mean that perhaps only one of every three seats may be occupied in a theater, and dinners held to celebrate holidays and other events no longer may be an option.
Restaurants and lounges could suffer the same fate – with fewer tables, masked and gloved servers and bartenders, and disposable menus, napkins, tableware and plastic glasses.
These moves are not unprecedented. They’re similar to what already is occurring in Macau, the world’s largest gambling market, where casinos closed for 15 days in February and reopened under tight restrictions.
And, finally, personal interaction – handshakes, hugs and other expressions of friendship and affection – is likely to be replaced with emails, phone calls and texts. Those all-important components in the traditional relationships between top-level players and their hosts will be only a distant memory.
Everything AC Casinos (Atlantic City)
Let the games begin — online
The World Series of Poker’s tournament series – the WSOP Spring Online Championships – runs through Sunday, May 3. The tournaments are open to all those inside the borders of Delaware, Nevada and New Jersey.
The WSOP.com Championships feature more than $4 million in guarantees and include more than 100 events, plus daily tournaments and a 12-event warm-up series. Buy-ins range from $10 to $1,000. The final Sunday of the series, May 3, is the Main Event — a $525 buy-in tournament with a $300,000 guarantee.
One of the highlights of the Online Championships is the Player Appreciation Tournament, Sunday, May 3. This “$100 for $100K” event has a $100 buy-in, a guaranteed prize pool of $100,000 and added prizes randomly awarded to participants. For a full schedule and other information, visit WSOP Promotions.
States could take cash from online gaming accounts
Jennifer C. Borden from the Borden Consulting Group, LLC, has published an interesting article about the money you may have in your online gaming accounts. She writes: “Escheatment, the business term for the states taking control of assets when they are unclaimed by an individual, is most commonly thought of in relation to forgotten bank accounts, insurance policies and stock. How does this relate to sports wagering? [A] handful of states are beginning to address potentially abandoned sports betting accounts.” Read the rest of her post here.
MGM announces M life Rewards program changes
MGM Resorts International has announced more updates to its M life® Rewards program in light of the coronavirus pandemic. Atlantic City’s Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa is part of M life. M life tier status – whether NOIR, Platinum, Gold or Pearl – earned in 2019 or in 2020, will be extended through Monday, Jan. 31, 2022.
With this extension, MGM also is changing its earning year to Jan. 1 through Dec. 31 from what’s historically been Oct. 1 to Sept. 30, extending benefits an additional three months and moving to an easier to understand and track calendar earning year.
In addition, expiration of any Points or Express Comps™ has been suspended through Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2020. Finally, certain M life Rewards offers like promotions – events and entertainment that will expire or be canceled during the time MGM casinos are closed – will be rescheduled and MGM promises to communicate new dates soon. In terms of FREEPLAY®, FreeBet, SLOT DOLLARS®, gifts and other offers valid during the closure, MGM has assured its customers that it is building new offers which it will share soon.
For answers to frequently asked questions regarding Caesars Rewards, click here.
‘Gentlemen (and ladies), start your virtual engines’
PlaySugarHouse.com is among the first sportsbooks in the United States to be approved by New Jersey regulators to offer betting on the 2020 eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series.
In-state players can place bets on a virtual auto race. The Cup Series races feature stars of past and present, including Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Busch, Clint Bowyer, Denny Hamlin and Dale Earnhardt Jr. The Series uses the premier motorsports racing simulation program – the same one used by NASCAR drivers to prepare for actual race events. This form of virtual sports is different than others because the simulator offers a full NASCAR experience down to the dynamics of the car and the real-life differences between track surfaces.
Ticketmaster revises refund policies – again
After weeks of criticism, Ticketmaster has revised its refund policy – again. Beginning May 1 customers can obtain refunds for canceled or rescheduled shows – similar to a plan instituted by AEG Presents.
Live Nation owns Ticketmaster and AEG is its biggest competitor. Under the plan – which applies only to events in the United States – refunds for postponed events will be available for 30 days once new dates have been set. For events that already have new dates, a customer’s 30-day refund window begins May 1.
Ticketmaster also offers incentives for customers to hold on to their tickets. For canceled events, Ticketmaster is offering credits worth 150 percent of the ticket’s value if customers use them on future events. Customers who attend events when they are rescheduled also will receive credits, but for lesser amounts.
The credits will vary for each event. Previously, refunds covered only “canceled” events – not those indefinitely “postponed” or rescheduled. “Refunds are available [only] if your event is canceled,” according to the earlier policy.
Related to this, Digital Music News reports that at least one customer has filed a class-action suit against ticket-reseller StubHub. Instead of cash refunds for those who purchased tickets to events canceled by the coronavirus pandemic, now StubHub is only providing vouchers. In a statement, StubHub claims, “It is currently impossible for us to offer immediate cash refunds to all buyers.”
Caesars Entertainment, VICI sell Bally’s Atlantic City
Caesars Entertainment Corp. and VICI Properties Inc. have reached an agreement to sell Bally’s Atlantic City Hotel and Casino to Twin River Worldwide Holdings Inc. for approximately $25 million in cash.
VICI will receive approximately $19 million from the sale, while Caesars will receive approximately $6 million. “We look forward to the reopening of Bally’s as soon as appropriate once the public health emergency related to COVID-19 has passed,” said Caesars CEO Tony Rodio. “We appreciate Twin River’s commitment to this property, which has a great future ahead under its stewardship.”
“The sale of Bally’s demonstrates our ongoing commitment to work collaboratively with our tenants to optimize our individual businesses, even during these unprecedented times,” said John Payne, president and COO of VICI. “This transaction allows us to maintain the existing financial terms of our master lease with Caesars and helps balance our geographic diversification as we work to complete the acquisition of Harrah’s.”
Following the sale, Caesars will continue to operate Caesars, including the Wild Wild West, The Book sports wagering facility and Harrah’s. VICI will continue to own the land and real estate associated with Caesars, including the Wild Wild West. The Bally’s transaction is subject to regulatory approvals and other closing conditions. Bally’s will continue to be part of the Caesars Rewards network until closing.
Bally’s Atlantic City
The Glamorous Past, Building Onward, and Thriving not Surviving
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.