Illinois Gaming Board Announces New COVID-19 Casino Restrictions as Case Count Rises

  • Region 7 casinos and video gaming facilities must lower capacity to 25% and close at 11pm
  • Region 4 casinos will stop indoor food and beverage service starting September 1
  • The Illinois Public Health Department will reassess the situation after 14 days
Computer rending of the COVID-19 virus
New COVID-19 casino restrictions are in effect for some Illinois casinos as case counts and positivity rates have increased in parts of the state. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

New requirements in two regions

New COVID-19 casino restrictions are now in effect in Illinois as areas of the state have experienced an increase in positive cases. Region 7 in Northeastern Illinois must take additional mitigation steps beginning Wednesday, August 26, while Region 4 – Metro East outside of St. Louis – has new restrictions coming on September 1. Both regions have exceeded the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) criteria that trigger more mitigation in order to fight a resurgence of cases and prevent the spread of the virus.

testing positivity rate was greater than or equal to 8% for three days running

The July 15 Restore Illinois resurgence plan outlined that new mitigation efforts would be applied if a region’s testing positivity rate was greater than or equal to 8% for three days running. This is the case in both Region 4 and Region 7.

The IDPH posted about the impending changes to Region 7 on Twitter:

COVID-19 casino restrictions launching today

Beginning at 5pm on August 26, several changes will be enacted in Region 7, just south of Chicago, as part of the new COVID-19 casino restrictions. Hollywood Casino Joliet and Harrah’s Casino Joliet will only be open from 8am until 11pm daily. Occupancy at these properties is now lowered from 50% to 25%.

Anyone inside the casino must wear a mask at all times.

The casinos are no longer allowed to offer food or beverages inside the facilities. Outdoor services, including carryout and curbside, are allowed. Anyone inside the casino must wear a mask at all times. Gamblers will not be allowed to group around table and carnival games or electronic gaming machines. The existing protocols in place for mitigation such as social distancing and sanitizing remain in effect.

All locations licensed to provide video gaming are also limited to the 8am to 11pm daily schedule. All of the rules listed above are in place, including food and beverage restrictions and mask mandates. Only one person per gaming terminal is allowed.

Additional changes in September

On September 1, additional mitigation efforts will begin in Region 4. Starting at 5pm, DraftKings at Casino Queen and Argosy Casino Alton will suspend food and beverage services. Carryout, curbside and outdoor options will be available.

The Metro East casinos were already forced to operate at just 25% capacity and limit their hours to 8am until 11pm because of enhanced mitigation rules that took effect last week. These capacity and hours of operation regulations will remain in place. Everyone inside the casino must always wear a mask.

As is the case in Region 7, video gaming-only locations in Region 4 will also be required to follow the same rules starting September 1.

Any operator that fails to comply with the mitigation efforts could face discipline, including license revocation.

Moving ahead

IDPH will continue to monitor the COVID-19 positivity rate in Region 4 and 7 over a 14-day period. After this time frame, it will be determined if mitigations can be relaxed, stay the same, or increase further.

If the rate returns to 6.5% or lower during the 14 days, then the region can go back to Phase 4 guidelines or a modified version thereof. If the rate is between 6.5% and 8%, the new mitigation efforts will remain in effect. A rate higher than 8% will call for more stringent mitigation efforts.

Remote registration returns for online sports betting

As cases of the coronavirus are increasing in the state, Governor J.B. Pritzker has reissued an executive order reinstating remote registration for online sports betting. During the height of the pandemic, Pritzker put this order in place so bettors could sign up for an online sports betting account while casinos were closed.

The remote registration option originally ended on July 26. From that time, players had to visit a physical sportsbook location to sign up for an online account.