Casino operators in Illinois may be allowed to reopen on June 26. This date marks the state’s Phase 4 of the reopening plan for businesses. Similar to other states, operators will have to follow social distancing and health and safety protocols.
Illinois Gaming Board Says Casinos May Reopen on June 26
The gambling and gaming locations in Illinois were shut back in March. This was an effort of the state to help reduce the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). Now, three months later, the Illinois Gaming Board still hasn’t announced when the state’s casino industry can reopen for visitors. Casinos, gaming parlors, gaming machines in restaurants and other venues currently remain closed. The owners of those places will have to submit plans on safe reopening. According to the Illinois Gaming Board, those businesses may reopen as soon as Friday, June 26. This date is in line with the Phase 4 of the state’s plan for reopening of businesses by Gov. J.B. Pritzker.
Gene O’Shea, spokesman for the regulator said: “The timing of resumption of video gaming and casino gaming is entirely dependent on the public health conditions at the time.” He further outlined that the resuming of operations of casinos and video gaming may be on the date of Phase 4 of the Illinois reopening plan. There are 10 casinos in the state as well as more than 36,000 video-gaming machines which are regulated by the Board. The 36,145 video-gaming machines are placed in 7,291 locations in the Prairie State.
Masks, Social Distancing and Other Mandatory Restrictions Applicable for the Casinos
The Illinois Gaming Board has set rules which the casino industry will need to follow in order to resume operations. Each operator that wants to reopen doors for visitors will need to present a plan explaining how the venue can ensure safe operations in the post-COVID-19 environment.
Similar to other states, venues which will resume operations will see 50% guest capacity. Social distancing of six feet is required as well. Both patrons and employees will need to wear masks and other protective equipment. Employees and patrons will get their temperature checked. Casinos and gaming equipment will have to be sanitized regularly, special attention will be paid to high traffic areas and touchable surfaces. Signs will be installed in order to remind the visitors of social distancing and other practices.
The gaming machines in the state will see similar set of restrictions. Those machines must follow the rules outlined by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Security. What number of gaming machines will be allowed to be switched on is still in discussion. This is because in order to operate, there must be six feet distance between patrons. Vendors must either rearrange the machines so that social distancing is achieved or choose to disable some machines. Secondary option is to install plexiglass spacers between the machines.
Reopening of Venues Will Help the Prairie State
Officials of East St. Louis find the news about a possible reopening of casinos compelling. The city’s budget is some $18 million. Of that amount $6 million is raised from income taxes, sales taxes and gaming revenue. However, when it comes to the last few months, the city received half of the usual gaming revenue in April. Looking at May, this number plummeted to none.
Brooke Smith, City Manager commented on the subject by saying: “Those funds are used to pay the salaries of policemen and firefighters, so needless to say, we are in a bit of a financial crunch.” She continued by saying: “We have not reached the point of having to lay people off yet. We’ve been able to manage. But I don’t know how much longer we’ll be able to.”
The US gaming industry will undoubtedly need time to recover. The leading credit rating provider, Fitch Ratings released a report earlier this month where recovery of the industry was set around 2023. With that being said, we can only hope that the industry will cut this period and come back to normal sooner.