What game exactly is New Jersey Governor Murphy playing in Atlantic City?
Last week the state announced that the Atlantic City casinos would be able to open – as long as they kept to 25% capacity. The casinos then started making plans to reopen.
Then in a statement released at 10 p.m. Monday night Murphy said that the casinos can technically open but nobody – not even in the outdoor areas – would be able to smoke, drink or eat anything while they gamble or are simply inside the casino itself.
This obviously caused the casinos to freak out. At first, all of them said they would remain closed. Then Tuesday night it was announced that Resorts, Tropicana, Ocean, Golden Nugget, and Hard Rock will reopen Thursday. Harrah’s, Caesars and Bally’s will reopen Friday.
Borgata – by far the largest casino in Atlantic City had no estimate of when it might reopen and strongly implied that it won't until it gets a better offer from Governor Murphy.
All of the casinos claim that they will not allow any drinking, eating, or smoking. But a quick look at any Atlantic City casino-related forum shows that the people who are coming to gamble won't abide by the rules.
There are many posts advising people on how to sneak water and booze into the casino. Many people are saying they will simply smoke in the bathrooms. There are even people talking about ways to sneak food into the casinos.
Obviously the casinos can't clamp down on all of that. Casinos are huge places. They are designed so you get lost in them and decide to stay and gamble a little bit more. There is no way at all even with the best security in place that you can stop the thousands and thousands of people willing to go to Ocean's 11's levels to have a drink or smoke. It can't be done.
So what happens then? Does the governor send the state police in to arrest everyone violating the rules at the casinos? He must know that it is impossible to stop people from eating and drinking. Hell back in the 1920s they tried to stop smoking and drinking in Atlantic City. It lasted exactly one day before Nucky Johnson dared the state to come in and try to arrest everyone. The state backed down.
So what is Governor Murphy playing at? Does he want the casinos to pay a higher percentage in taxes in order to allow smoking and drinking? Does he want more campaign contributions from the casinos and their friends? He can't simply mean it when he tells people in Atlantic City not to eat, drink, or smoke. Something is going on here. We don't know what it is but someone needs to look into it.
As Nucky Johnson of Boardwalk Empire said, “We have whiskey, wine, women, song, and slot machines. I won't deny it and I won't apologize for it. If the majority of people didn't want them, they wouldn't be profitable.”