Murphy aiming to open casinos by July Fourth weekend

File photo Atlantic City's casinos had a strong month in September.

Gov. Phil Murphy said he is aiming to reopen the casinos in Atlantic City in time for the July 4 weekend.

Murphy, speaking Sunday on the “AC Mike Show” with Mike Lopez on WOND-AM 1400 radio, made it clear that July is only the goal at this point.

“It’s probably still too early to give you a very specific answer, but there’s a lot of work going into that right now,” he said. “But we are trying like heck to get toward, I hope, before the Fourth of July or at least by the Fourth of July.

Murphy discussed the issues casinos face, including being indoors, having sedentary activities, lacking cross ventilation and the potential for close contact for extended periods of the time.

That being said, Murphy said the large footprints of casino floors afford more opportunity for distancing, though that will come with smaller capacity.

Casinos, which were closed March 16, are eager for any type of reopening and have presented the governor with potential options of service that will honor social distancing guidelines.

Some of the suggestions include daily temperature checks and mandatory face coverings for employees, plexiglass in numerous locations and the allowance of drink — but not food — on the casino floor.

One of the biggest hurdles is the number of people allowed for an indoor gathering. As of this weekend, that number was 10 — though Murphy has hinted it may be increased in the coming days.

Last week, the governor set dates for not only the reopening of youth sports, summer camps and horse racing — all outdoor activities — but also the reopening for child care centers, places that seemingly present as big a challenge as casinos.

The industry certainly could use any increase in revenue. Gaming revenue for April was $82.6 million — all of which was earned from the internet. The total was less than one-third of what it was in April 2019, when casinos brough in $265 million.

Closing of the casinos has led to the furlough of more than 20,000 employees.

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