The gaming regulator in Illinois issued a warning to casino operators, stating that they need to follow strictly the health and safety measures under which they were allowed to re-open, as casinos in the state were finally given the go-ahead to resume operations.
Regulator Determined to Make Sure Operators Stick to Guidelines
The Illinois Gaming Board released a message Thursday reminding casinos of their obligations regarding the state protocols for operating during the still ongoing health situation. Face coverings and physical distancing, as well as regular hand washing, are part of the prescribed guidelines for re-opening of casinos aimed at limiting the spread of the virus infection. The regulator was adamant that any failure to comply could be sanctioned by the board, including revoking of casino licenses.
“More importantly, disregard of such preventative measures and requirements could contribute to a resurgence of COVID-19 cases in Illinois and another potential suspension of gaming operations. That is a result nobody wants. We urge you not to let it happen.”Marcus Fruchter, Administrator, Illinois Gaming Board
After more than 3 months of closures to help support state and federal efforts to contain the spread of the highly contagious virus infection, by the end of June St. Gov. J.B. Pritzker issued a formal order to allow the 10 casinos in the state and the thousands of video gambling machine venues to resume operations, effective Wednesday, July 1.
News about the re-opening of casinos in the Prairie State were long awaited as the closure in March left thousands of people out of work, from one side, while depriving the state from gaming tax receipts, from the other.
State Material Impact from Casino Closures
For comparison, between March and April in 2019, an estimated $114 million in tax money were received by the authorities in the state, funds that did not appear on the state’s accounts this year. Video slot machines contributed over the same period to the amount of $147 million, making the total material impact for the state’s coffers for the three months this year in excess of $250 million.
Regarding its neighbor states, Illinois was falling behind Indiana and Wisconsin in terms of dates for re-opening of the casino industry but was using their experience to avoid early mistakes and come up with guidelines for casino operators.
As almost in any other state that allowed casinos to re-open, Illinois limited the capacity of casinos to 50%, prescribed mandatory wearing of masks for both guests and employees, as well as maintaining of distance of at least 6 feet. Regular cleaning and sanitizing protocols completed the guidelines the gaming regulator issued and is showing resolve to make sure casino operators strictly follow.