The coronavirus is taking its toll all over the US, and the land-based casino industry has been hit the hardest. Almost all casinos all over the country had to shut down their doors to minimize the spread of the COVID-19 disease. This also includes the two biggest gambling centers in the US — New Jersey and Nevada.
While Las Vegas has been discussing potential casino reopenings, Atlantic City has had other kinds of problems. Ever since the casino industry was shut down in the area, approximately 1,500 workers were laid-off, meaning many households were with no income under quarantine.
That’s why there was a rather unusual sight in New Jersey this Wednesday, as a two-mile-long vehicle line was created, with many of them belonging to casino employees who were left on their own after casinos were closed. All of the people in line were waiting for free food.
The food was provided by Food Bank of New Jersey/United Here Local 54. There was a food drive that was on the parking lot of the Harbor Square Mall, which was also closed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Most of the people in the line were also members of Local 54, and some of them were without a job or income for more than five weeks — since Atlantic City casinos closed their doors.
The Governor of New Jersey, Phil Murphy, officially decided to close the casinos in the state on March 16. Therefore, at this point, casinos in the area haven’t been operating for more than a month. However, some of the workers were laid off even before the official shutdown was announced in the US.
Workers Got Up to Two Weeks Worth of Meals
Boxes that were distributed to unemployed casino workers contained approximately 40 meals, meaning that would be enough food for about two weeks. The food boxes contained canned goods, rice, pasta, dairy products, and produce.
After regular boxes ran out, some workers reportedly received only produce. Moreover, some workers were turned away and instructed to go to their local food pantries.
The president of Local 54, Bob McDevitt, stated that all workers in the hospitality industry were being affected by the virus. He added that he expected casinos to reopen by the middle of May.
McDevitt also said that many workers aren’t getting even the $600 promised paycheck as it is still being processed, so that’s why they were in urgent need of food. Simply put, some of them haven’t received any payment in weeks.
One thing is certain, even if that is true, there’s still almost a month to go before that happens. The situation regarding the coronavirus is not really favorable at the moment, as the US has recorded the highest number of cases in the world. The numbers are still exponentially rising, and this could take a serious toll not only on the casino industry but on the entire economy as well.
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