Illinois Governor Shuts Down Casinos As Covid-19 Case Rate Spikes

The Governor of Illinois said on Tuesday that all indoor entertainment venues will close down starting Friday, as the number of coronavirus cases averages nearly 12,500 per day.

Casinos Will Close For Three Weeks

Illinois riverboat casinos will close due to a surge in the number of coronavirus cases, Governor J.B. Pritzker announced Tuesday in a news conference.

This is the second time this year that the gaming industry will be forced to close to minimize the spread of Covid-19. However, no date has been specified as to when gaming operations would resume. Shutdown of casinos, as well as museums, will begin on November 20. Retail shops will operate at limited capacity. Governor Pritzker said the new restrictions were implemented to avoid a statewide stay-at-home order.

Many casinos operators are impacted by the measures: Caesars Entertainment and Penn National Gaming (three casinos), Boyd Gaming and Rush Street Gaming (one casino each), DraftKings-branded Casino Queen, and the Jumer’s, which is being purchased by Bally’s Corp.

Illinois’ video gaming industry is also hit by the restrictions. A total of 7,135 locations will have to stop their 37,459 games. This includes bars, restaurants, stores, gas stations and truck shops, with various slot machines owned by Penn National and Boyd Gaming.

Penn’s three Illinois casinos provided about 6% of the company’s net revenue in 2019, while Boyd’s Par-A-Dice Casino in East Peoria and its slot circuit provided 4% of last year’s net revenue.

Officials at Penn National, Caesars Entertainment and Boyd Gaming declined to comment.

The 12th Day in A Row With More Than 10,000 Cases Reported

Illinois was the first state to close down gaming venues on March 15 due to the pandemic. Although the shutdown was expected to last two weeks, gaming operations only reopened on July 1.

On Tuesday, the State’s health authorities reported 12,601 new Covid-19 cases, for an average of 12,381 new cases per day during the past week. More than 10,000 cases were reported for the 12th day in a row.

The shutdown in Illinois closely follows the one in Michigan, as the state just ordered a three-week shutdown due to a rise in Covid-19 cases, and in Philadelphia, where the River Casino has been forced to stop operations starting Friday. Ohio Governor Mike DeWine added a stay-at-home curfew to the list of Covid-19 limitations, as the number of positive cases reached 7,000.

“In addition, multiple states have implemented more stringent restrictions to combat COVID-19 in recent weeks, though haven’t gone as far as to close the casinos,” Deutsche Bank gaming analyst Carlo Santarelli said on Tuesday, “We think it is unrealistic to assume this is the last of the closures, especially with the light at the end of the tunnel identifiable with the vaccine.”

In addition to the closing of indoor entertainment venues, Governor Pritzker asked Illinois residents to avoid “unnecessary gatherings”, especially as Thanksgiving is coming next week.

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