Casinos in Illinois to reopen from 1 July

Illinois will be the latest state to reopen its casinos later this week.

The Illinois Gaming Board (IGB) has announced that casinos in the state will be able to reopen their doors from 1 July, as long as they operate in line with new safety measures set by Governor J.B. Pritzker.

On 24 June, Pritzker said that each region in the state had met the health benchmarks to proceed to Phase 4 of the Restore Illinois Plan, which will see more businesses in the state reopen.

Casinos are among the business that will be allowed to reopen later this week, while video gaming terminals (VGTs) will also make a return on 1 July, after both offerings were suspended on 16 March due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Safety measures

Earlier this month, the IGB revealed the reopening guidelines for casinos in the state. These include limiting casino operation capacity to 50% and poker rooms will remain closed.

Each casino and VGT operator must also provide the IGB with a Pandemic Resumption Plan to guide operations when venues reopen.

Gaming Board Administrator Marcus Fruchter said: “The Gaming Board worked with the Governor’s Office, the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), and the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) to develop a gaming resumption process that protects the public health of patrons and employees, while restarting gaming activities in meaningful way.

“The video and casino gaming industry have worked cooperatively and professionally with the IGB to develop best practices that create the safest possible environment for gaming, while adhering to IDPH, DCEO, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance. We appreciate their cooperation and work toward the mutual goal of a resumption that protects the safety and integrity of Illinois gaming.”

Casino operator Boyd Gaming was one of the first operators to confirm it will resume casino operations in the state with the reopening of its Par-A-Dice Hotel Casino on 1 July in line with the new measures.

The sports betting situation in Illinois

This news comes after the IGB approved seven casinos in the state for Master Sports Wagering licenses in mid-June. Under the state’s sports wagering legislation, a Master Sports Wagering Licence is required for a casino with a land-based sportsbook to offer mobile sports betting.

Online sports betting also went live in Illinois on 18 June with the launch of Rush Street Interactive’s BetRivers online sportsbook. The launch of online sports betting in Illinois came after the IGB proposed an emergency rule change in relation to the branding for online and mobile sports betting.

On 4 June, Pritzker issued an executive order suspending the in-person registration for online sports betting. This allows bettors in the state to register online betting accounts remotely while Gubernatorial Disaster Proclamations are in place.

In July 2019, Pritzker signed Illinois’ gambling expansion bill into law, making Illinois the fifth state to legalize sports betting in 2019. As well as legalizing sports betting, the bill allowed for the launch of six new land-based casinos and a large casino venue in Chicago.

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