Illinois Casinos Await Gaming Board’s Green Light to Reopen

  • State's casinos expected to resume operations imminently following mid-March closures
  • Illinois Casino Gaming Association executive director is hopeful about June 26 reopening date
  • All ten gambling facilities will have to submit safety plans before receiving regulator's approval
  • Illinois is taking similar steps to Las Vegas, which reopened its casino doors on June 4
gambling machines
Illinois’ ten casinos are waiting to get the go-ahead from the state’s regulator to reopen for business. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Doors closed since mid-March

Illinois casinos may soon get the green light to reopen this summer provided they adhere to social distancing measures.

Since March 16, all ten Illinois casinos have been shut down in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Tom Swoik, the executive director of the Illinois Casino Gaming Association, is hopeful that the state’s casino doors will reopen on June 26.

hopeful that the state’s casino doors will reopen on June 26

While the Illinois Gaming Board has issued reopening guidelines for casino operators to adhere to, it hasn’t set a date yet as to when activities can resume. The board is expected to hold its first meeting in four months on June 11.

Putting safety measures in place

According to the Chicago Sun Times, before Illinois casinos can resume operations, each will have to submit a reopening plan. Facilities should detail how they intend to protect employees with free personal protective equipment (PPE) and ensure the current six-foot social distancing requirement between patrons, among other requirements.

before Illinois casinos can resume operations, each will have to submit a reopening plan

The Illinois Gaming Board will prohibit venues from offering a number of gambling options and other services on their premises. These include valet parking, buffets, poker rooms, table game tournaments, and activities that require casino patrons to crowd together.

Signage reminding customers and staff about correct hand washing and social distancing measures will also be required. Disinfection of gaming equipment such as dice, chips, cards, and roulette wheels is to take place regularly. Daily health screenings for employees will be carried out, and both staff and customers must wear “some type of face covering”.

Following in Las Vegas’ footsteps

At 12:01 am on June 4, casinos in Las Vegas welcomed back their first guests since closing their doors mid-March amid the pandemic outbreak.

In order for Nevada’s casino doors to receive approval from the Nevada Gaming Control Board, properties had to implement health and safety measures, such as the wearing of face masks and maintaining social distancing.

Taking measures that are similar to those in Las Vegas, Illinois casinos will be capped at 50% capacity. However, the state’s Gaming Board said this is subject to change “depending on public health conditions at any time”.

Recovering COVID-19 losses

Casinos in Illinois have registered a $100m loss since they suspended operations in March because of COVID-19. 5,000 gambling industry workers ended up without a job.

If all ten casinos reopen on June 26, the state will be set to proceed to Phase Four of Governor J.B. Pritzker’s reopening plan, which would permit gatherings of up to 50 people. In a memo, board administrator Marcus Fruchter informed Illinois casino operators that the “timing and conditions for such a resumption will be based upon public health guidance and metrics.”