Illinois Casinos Back In Business

Illinois’s 10 casinos reopened July 1 after a three-month shutdown due to Covid-19. Gaming Board Administrator Marcus Fruchter (l.) said the governor’s office and the state Department of Public Health collaborated on “a gaming resumption process that protects the public health.”

Governor J.B. Pritzker and the Illinois Gaming Board allowed the state’s 10 casinos and 36,000 video gambling machines in 7,300 locations to reopen Wednesday, July 1 after three months of closures due to Covid-19.

Each venue was required to submit a detailed individual plan in order to be permitted to reopen. Pritzker commented, “I’m not an expert about how many times you need to wipe down a video gambling terminal to make it safe. Like other activities, we’re trying to do these things in measures, with lots of health and safety guidance. The Number 1 driving factor is people should not get sick while doing those activities.”

Guests will see several new health and safety protocols as they’re welcomed back to their favorite gambling spots. Gaming Board Administrator Marcus Fruchter said, “The Gaming Board worked with the governor’s office, the Illinois Department of Public Health and the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity to develop a gaming resumption process that protects the public health of patrons and employees, while restarting gaming activities in meaningful way.”

Under the new rules, casinos will operate at 50 percent capacity. Face masks and health screenings will be mandatory for guests and employees. Social distancing will be maintained with fewer seats available at table games and slots. Buffets and valet parking will remain closed. All gaming equipment including dice, chips, cards and roulette wheels will be regularly sanitized.

Illinois Casino Gaming Association Executive Director Tom Swoik said, “The casinos are gonna be some of the safest places people can be. All of them are being totally disinfected. They’re gonna have people continuously monitoring the machines and the tables, wiping every possible surface down.”

Partitions have been installed between video gambling machines or they have been physically rearranged at bars, veterans and fraternal organizations, truck stops and other locations.

The shutdown, which began March 16, put more than 5,000 casino employees out of work. Also, with no video gambling available for three months, state and local governments are down more than $105 million in gaming tax revenue compared to last year. State Senator Dave Syverson said, “Each day that it’s not turned on for video gaming, that’s money away from small business, local municipalities, and the state of Illinois. Three levels are all helped by turning video gaming back on. They’re all set. They’ve spent the money, they’ve made the investments, they’re ready to go.”