Illinois Casinos Set to Reopen July 1 at 50% Capacity

Illinois’ ten casinos and other establishments around the state that conduct gambling activities are set to resume operations at 9 am on July 1 at limited capacity, Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s administration confirmed Thursday.

The state’s gambling venues have been closed since March 16 to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.

The reopening of casinos and the restart of video gambling machine operations are part of Phase 4 of the five-phase Restore Illinois plan that aims to reintroduce businesses and other aspects of people’s lives that have been put on hold since the coronavirus gripped Illinois.

Casinos and other gambling halls are set to reopen a few days behind other crowd-dependent establishments that are to relaunch as part of Phase 4. Illinois’ moving into that fourth reopening stage starts today.

Earlier this month, as casinos began to resume operations in neighboring states, the Illinois Gaming Board issued health and safety guidelines for the state’s casino and video gaming terminal operators to follow when eventually allowed to relaunch. The state’s gambling venues were also instructed to submit their own reopening plans for approval by the regulator.

Each of the state’s ten casinos will operate at 50% capacity. However, the Gaming Board said earlier this month that this is subject to change “depending on public health conditions.”

Face Masks for All

Employees and customers at gambling establishments will be required to wear masks or other face coverings, as per Gaming Board guidelines.

Casinos will be required to provide free personal protective equipment to their staff members. Casino workers will have to undergo daily health screenings. They will have to regularly remind patrons to practice social distancing and to wash their hands properly. All gaming equipment will have to be disinfected properly and regularly.

Illinois has ten operational casinos and more than 36,000 video gaming terminals spread across nearly 7,300 bars, restaurants, and truck stops.

Of the upcoming reopening of casinos, Gov. Pritzker said Thursday that they are trying to do things in measures, “with lots of health and safety guidance” and that “the No. 1 driving factor is people should not get sick while doing those activities.”

Illinois Casino Gaming Association Executive Director Tom Swoik said that the state’s casinos “are gonna be some of the safest places people can be” and that “all of them are being totally disinfected.”

At bars, restaurants, and other facilities hosting gaming machines, operators will be required to install physical partitions between the devices or space them out to ensure that patrons are at safe distance from each other.

The closure of Illinois’ casinos and sportsbooks within those prompted the state to introduce mobile betting earlier than expected. Under the original sports betting law approved by the Legislature and signed by Gov. Pritzker last summer, state bettors were required to register in-person at physical betting facilities in order to be able to place bets via their mobile phones.

Gov. Pritzker signed earlier this month an executive order allowing bettors to register for digital sports betting remotely. The order will remain in effect only temporarily.

Rivers Casino Des Plaines became the state’s first casino to launch digital sports betting following the removal of the in-person registration requirement. The gambling venue operates the BetRivers app in partnership with Rush Street Interactive.

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