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An Open Letter to Gov. Phil Murphy Regarding Opening Atlantic City’s Casinos

An open letter to Gov. Phil Murphy from an unemployed casino worker who asks for careful consideration when deciding the time frame to open Atlantic City’s casinos.

Office of the Governor of New Jersey
Trenton, New Jersey 08625

Your Excellency Governor Phil Murphy:

My name is Hemang A. Sutaria. I am writing to you to as a son, a husband, and a parent. Along with my family, I am one of your constituents. My wife, my mother, and I have been unemployed due to COVID-19 Pandemic. We are all Casino Workers and have been for decades.

There has been talk in the Local News Media of Casinos making plans to open by early or mid-June. These are opening plans being presented by Casino Owners and Corporations alike. I agree to the fact that businesses have to resume operations and economic activity has to commence. Although, another fact still remains true. There is no viable vaccine presently available to the public at large to fight this virus. The risks are greatly enhanced by simply walking into an enclosed public building, like a Casino. I am not a Health Care Professional, but I am confident the last thing a Health Care Professional would recommend during an infectious pandemic is to have a large public gathering in an enclosed public building for a prolonged period of time. We have all read unfortunate reports of Health Care Workers being infected and dying. This virus does not spare anyone, even if they are using state of the art personal protective equipment (PPE). How would a Casino Worker fare against this virus with only a face mask?

I applaud the efforts Casino Corporations are making to keep employees and patrons safe. This is a difficult time for them as well. Although, they are blinded by their unwavering loyalty to their partners and shareholders. Casinos have all setup some form of gaming operations via online gaming and online sports betting. Granted, the Casino buildings are closed, but they have all conducted business as usual online, with revenues surpassing that of Las Vegas. Apart from online revenues, I would highly doubt Casinos Corporations were left out of the $2.2 Trillion Stimulus Package awarded by the Federal Government with the passing of the CARES Act.

It has been largely reported in the National News Media the unfortunate developments of some of the White House Staffers and President Trump’s personal Valet having been tested positive for COVID-19. One has to wonder, IF the most protected building on our planet, not just on our planet, but in the known universe was penetrated by COVID-19, what chance does an Atlantic City Casino worker or a Las Vegas Casino Worker have against this virus?

I humbly request you to carefully consider the opening of Atlantic City Casinos. I’m sure there will be political and economic pressure to resume Casino Operations. I assure you, by opening Casinos, which are non-essential, you will be sentencing not just my family and me, but some of my 16,000+ colleagues to their grave. Casinos serve one purpose and one purpose alone, ENTERTAINMENT…! The economic recovery via entertainment revenue and gaming revenue can wait a little while. Atlantic City Casinos have had since 1978 to prepare for rainy day funds. Multi- billion dollar Casino Corporations have never been satisfied with revenues, they always want more! As a 15+ year Casino Worker, I can tell you from my experience that Casino Corporations are notorious for talking out of both sides of their mouth and cutting corners, regardless of the negative effects on patrons or employees.

Governor Murphy, this letter is not intended to vilify anyone or any business. Although, as our Governor, you are our last line of defense. You have the supreme authority to decide our fate as we move forward during this time of uncertainty and fear. I hope and pray God will accord you prudence and wisdom to prolong Casino openings. Please do not subject your constituents and their families (regardless of party affiliation) to suffer from the COVID-19 fallout for economic recovery, profitable casino balance sheets and stock price gains. Casinos have a lot of money, surely they can ride out the rough patch.

Hemang A. Sutaria
Egg Harbor Township, NJ