Illinois extends casino closure amid coronavirus pandemic

The state of Illinois has extended the closure of its gambling venues amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The Illinois Gaming Board has extended the temporary suspension of all land-based gambling activity in the state to help halt the spread of the coronavirus.

The temporary suspension on gambling activities in the state first came into effect on 16 March and was then extended until 30 April. However, in the latest extension, the regulator did not set a date at which the suspension will be lifted.

Last week, Governor JN Pritzker announced that the stay at home executive order would remain in place into the end of May. However, it will allow for a phased reopening of the state’s parks, and residents will be required to wear face masks in public.

At the time of writing, there have been 58,505 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Illinois and 2,559 deaths.

What the regulator said

In its announcement, the regulator said: “The health and safety of patrons, gaming industry employees, Gaming Board staff, and all others in Illinois is the Gaming Board’s top priority at this time.

“The Gaming Board is monitoring developments regarding COVID-19 and will continue to make decisions based on science, public health guidance, and applicable law and rules. The Gaming Board will also continue to update licensees and other stakeholders as new information becomes available.”

The impact of COVID 19 on the US gambling industry

The US gambling industry has been hit incredibly hard by the coronavirus pandemic. In March, all commercial casinos and most of the country’s tribal gambling establishments temporarily closed their doors. On top of this, all major sports have either been cancelled or suspended due to health concerns.

In March, the US Senate passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which created a $2tn stimulus package to provide support for people, businesses and states that have been affected by the pandemic.

In late April, the Small Business Administration (SBA) amended the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), an element of the CARES act, allowing gambling businesses to receive support from the program.

The PPP would make $349bn in loans available to small businesses impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. These loans are forgiven if all employees are kept on the payroll for eight weeks and the money is used to pay the costs of payroll, rent, utilities or mortgage interest.

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