Online gambling in U.S. thrives amidst global pandemic20th August 2020 |
Online casino sites in New Jersey have been thriving this summer and breaking revenue record after record each month in 2020 without any signs of slowing down, despite casinos reopening in Atlantic City, albeit to stringent safety measures.
The NJ Division of Gaming Enforcement in a recent report showed that online gambling sites brought in $87.5 million in revenues in July, edging over their previous record of $85.9 million in May. Online poker sites enjoyed a 36 per cent upswing from June and raked in $4.8 million.
Sports betting was also significantly up in July with $315.1 million in wagers placed, an increase of 25.4 per cent month-on-month. It’s been two years now since the Garden State opened up for legal sports betting and since then $4.5 million in wagers have been placed.
Atlantic City opens at reduced capacity
Although gambling has returned to Atlantic City, the casinos are only operating at 25 per cent capacity and there is no food, drinks or smoking allowed, and players and staff have to wear face masks at all times while sanitizing their hands frequently.
“I would tell everybody to stop and take a deep breath and think not only about the business side of this. We’re all human beings first. And think about how you would want to be treated. Businesses are in business to make a profit but right now we got to put humanity first,” said Borgata Casino President and COO, Melonie Johnson.
Sin City is hurting
The Vegas Strip reopened despite critics on June 4, 2020, to larger-than-expected crowds ignoring social distancing and face masks were few and far between. More stringent rules are now in place for both guests and employees. Still, many fear that the glory days of the Entertainment Capital of the World aren’t likely to return any time soon.
According to ProPublica, a non-profit newsroom that investigates abuses of power, Vegas may very well be a hotbed for the spread of COVID-19, suggesting that not everything that happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.
Joshua Michaud, an epidemiologist and associate director of global health policy for the Kaiser Family Foundation, said that there is no national system in place for contact tracing. Which means that in the event of a “cluster outbreak” or “superspreading event” among Vegas visitors, it’s not likely that it would be caught by contact tracing.
“The way it’s set up right now, contact tracers are not looking for clusters that might identify outbreaks tied to traveling to a casino or other specific locations,” Michaud said. “You’re not actively looking for it, so you might miss that event. Contact tracing is not set up to answer those questions, so you’ll still be in the dark.”
Analysis of smartphone data has shown how interconnected Las Vegas is with the rest of the country. During a four-day period in July, close to 26,000 phones were mapped on the Strip and many of them showed up in every state on the mainland except for Maine in those same four days.
In the five weeks after Las Vegas reopened, the number of daily COVID-19 cases rose tenfold. More than a million passengers came through the airport in June and many drive from neighboring states for a thrill at the table.
Reopening Las Vegas is akin to “gambling with lives,” said Michelle Follette Turk, an occupational health historian at UNLV. “The employers are gambling with employees’ lives because they want to make a profit,” Turk added.