Borgata reopens Sunday; last casino to open in Atlantic City, New Jersey

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Sunday, July 26, 2020
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Atlantic City's Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa opened Sunday at 10 a.m. for their grand reopening, although they had a soft opening earlier in the week.

ATLANTIC CITY, New Jersey (WPVI) -- Atlantic City's Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa opened Sunday at 10 a.m. for their grand reopening. Earlier this week, the casino held a soft reopening.

Guests can expect many new safety precautions, including temperature screenings before you're allowed inside.

"I'm very happy, I just got back into the casinos," said Brenda Cook of Atlantic City.

Borgata is the last casino in Atlantic City to reopen its doors. It has opened with a limited 25% casino capacity, and it has sanitizing and handwashing stations. Every other slot machine is turned off and some chairs have been taped off for social distancing.

"It's hard to interact with the dealer because of the plexiglass between you, but I guess this is the new normal," said Jeff Rutizer of Philadelphia's Somerton section.

Face masks must be worn on the casino floor at all times by customers and employees, which means no drinks can be served. There's no indoor dining allowed in the casino, per the State's rules, although some restaurants are open for takeout and in-room delivery.

"It was weird ordering takeout and eating it in a room, eating a steak and shrimp in a room," said Rutizer.

What used to separate each casino in Atlantic City was the entertainment and dining, but now that's temporarily off the table. Each casino has to come up with creative ways to keep customers coming back. Borgata is testing out new outdoor dining experiences, like a beer garden by the pool and nearby food trucks.

"It's definitely different, food trucks at a casino," said Rutizer.

Even with safety measures in place, it's been hard on the casino.

"It is difficult because we have employees and customers that are still scared, the unknown is very fearful," said Melonie Johnson, president and COO of Borgata.

Many furloughed employees are waiting to see if they'll have a job soon, though some are still receiving benefits.

"The ones that are on MGM's medical health plan will continue to receive benefits through August 31, and that will be paid by MGM Resorts International," said Johnson.

Borgata said it's one of the city's largest employers, and while it hasn't brought back all of its employees, it's hoping to bring back more as the summer season goes on and as the State loosens its guidelines.