ATLANTIC CITY, New Jersey (WPVI) -- Atlantic City casinos and hotels are typically destinations for New Year's Eve parties. COVID-19 restrictions mean the celebrations will look much different from last year.
Guests checked into Ocean Casino Resort on Thursday afternoon, ready for a much more subdued New Year's Eve.
"Last year, the year before you have the big gala that you're invited to and the band and DJ, and none of that's here. But we're here!" said Jeanne Morris of Toms River.
In New Jersey, indoor dining and drinking is allowed at 25% capacity until 10 p.m. After that, it has to move outside.
Officials at Ocean hope people will take their drinks to one of the outdoor areas if they want to toast at midnight. They're also giving hotel guests a bottle of champagne.
"There's still going to be a party going on. The casino, there will be a lot of activity there. We're celebrating with a $200,000 sweepstakes between today and tomorrow," said Terry Glebocki, Ocean Casino Resort CEO.
This has been a tough year for Atlantic City. According to the Center for Gaming Research, gaming revenue is down 45% from last year. But with increases in internet gaming and sports betting, the Atlantic City gambling industry as a whole is down 20% in revenue from last year.
At Resorts Casino Hotel, hundreds of New Year's Eve meals are being prepared. The Ocean Ballroom is normally packed with partiers on the dance floor, but this year the space will be used for extra seating for a gourmet meal. Casino officials are optimistic for 2021 and the arrival of vaccines.
In Atlantic City we think there will be a lot of pent-up demand," said Resorts President and CEO Mark Giannantonio. "As some folks might be a little apprehensive to get on an airplane but will drive to Atlantic City."
While state officials have been discouraging gatherings for New Year's Eve, people we spoke with say they feel comfortable with the precautions the casinos are taking, and are happy to do anything to usher in 2021.