Illinois regulator introduces new restrictions as coronavirus cases rise

Land-based gambling venues in Illinois will be subject to new restrictions amid a rise in coronavirus cases.

The Illinois Gaming Board (IGB) has revealed a new set of restrictions for land-based gambling venues in the state of Illinois in response to an increase in coronavirus cases.

This comes after gambling venues across the state of Illinois were permitted to reopen on 1 July, with the capacity for each venue set at 50%, after being forced to close in mid-March due to the coronavirus pandemic.

A spike in cases

According to the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), the Metro East region of Illinois has exceeded the criteria that would trigger additional measures to help slow the spread of the virus.

Figures from the IDPH show that the Metro East’s positive test rate hit an average of 8% for three consecutive days between August 14-16.

As a result of this, restrictions will not be implemented in the region which includes the Bond, Clinton, Madison, Monroe, Randolph, St. Clair and Washington counties.

In a statement published on Sunday, Gov. J.B. Pritzker said: “Working with local officials in the Metro East region and across the border in St. Louis, we are implementing stricter mitigations that account for the unique factors in this region. Dr. Ezike and I are imploring local leaders and residents alike: if you haven’t been taking this seriously yet, now is the time to start.”

The restrictions

As per the state’s Department of Health website, gambling operations at all licensed gambling venues in the region may only take place between 8am and 11pm.

These hours apply to all licensed forms of gambling at the gambling venues in the region, including the sportsbooks at Casino Queen and Alton Argosy casinos. The closing time also coincides with bars and restaurants throughout the region.

In addition to the revised operating hours, gambling facilities will be limited to 25% of fire code capacity.

The IGB said: “Failure to comply with mitigation efforts could subject licensees to discipline, up to and including license revocation.”

The IDPH said it will continue to monitor the positivity rate in the region for the next two weeks and if the rate drops to a safe level by the end of this period, which is 6.5% or lower, the restrictions may be relaxed.

However, if the positivity rate grows beyond 6.5% or 8%, the restrictions will remain in place. If the rate surpasses 8% the IDPH may implement stricter measures to slow the virus, which could include the closing of indoor bars and dining areas.

Challenges for sportsbooks

The restrictions placed on occupancy may make the sign-up process for online sports betting in the area longer for customers.

In June, Pritzker signed an executive order that relaxed the in-person registration rules and allowed players to register their online sports betting accounts remotely from anywhere within the state.

However, once casinos in the state reopened in July, Pritzker did not extend the executive order, which means that players must once again create an online sports betting account in-person.

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