Gamblers in New Jersey can relax, after a threat to temporarily close Atlantic City’s brick and mortar casinos have passed.
Earlier in the year, the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement stated that should a budget standoff occur in the state, any land-based and online betting industries would be directly affected. The DGE notified all state gambling operators, stating that unless an agreement on the budget was reached by midnight on July 7, online betting accounts and access to brick and mortar venues would be suspended.
The move would potentially have been disastrous for the gambling industries in the state, with the Fourth of July weekend generally resulting in an increase of revenue as many players flock to casinos to unwind. New Jersey Governor, Phil Murphy, has avoided the daunting scenario by agreeing to sign the budget, although a statement indicated that he has reservations about it. Further changes and tinkering with the budget could still occur, but the commitment to cut tens of millions of spending should see it pass, and the casinos stay open.
In a situation that will be all too familiar for many residents of the state, the current deadlock revolves around taxes. It is the second year on the spin that the issue has been a thorn in the New Jersey governor’s side. As well as casinos; state parks, motor vehicle offices and even courthouses would suffer in the event of a shutdown. Most crucially, the beaches would be closed over the celebratory weekend.
New Jersey has experienced such a fiasco before. In 2017, then-governor Chris Christie shut down the government. While that did see numerous suspension of services across the state (including the beaches), the casinos were spared as an agreement was reached within three days. Eleven years earlier, the casinos in Atlantic City were not so lucky, when a three-day closure cost the state approximately £3.9m.
According to New Jersey law, any government suspension which lasts a week (including those not limited to budgetary arguments) will lead to the closure of both online and land-based gambling operations, including racetracks. The primary reason for this is sound, as there would effectively be no governmental agency (in New Jersey’s case, a member of the Casino Control Commission) to regulate the gambling venues. Ordinarily, a representative of the CCC is on-hand at every casino and racetrack to ensure that the law is adhered to.
So far, the threat of a shutdown has receded, and the sound of coins being dropped into slots is likely to be heard throughout Atlantic City over the long weekend.