Illinois Gaming Board has released a series of guidelines for casinos to follow and implement before resuming operations, with special emphasis on deep cleaning and social distancing protocols.
While the Illinois Gaming Board has yet to announce reopening date for casinos and other entertainment venues, industry observers hope that casinos in the state can get back to business before the end of this month. Tom Swoik, executive director of Illinois Casino Gaming Association, earlier estimated that the state’s casinos could be allowed to resume operations sometime near June 26th.
Without announcing a reopening date for the state’s casinos, the gaming regulator has asked each operator to submit a plan showing how they will follow and implement the new health guidelines, which includes capping guest capacity at 50 per cent, requiring both workers and visitors to wear face masks, and keeping poker rooms, buffets and pools closed until further notice. In simple words, many allurements will not be available for the many weeks to come. In addition, operators will have to space out their slot machine or install partitions between the machines to help curb the potential second wave of corona virus pandemic.
In a recent interview, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker said, “Our public health officials are talking to casino owners and other experts to try to figure out how you could do it. We’ve heard a lot about this out of Las Vegas, of course. But, look: the goal here is to get everybody back to work, but to do it safely.”
Meanwhile, the gaming board of the state has granted sports betting licenses to more than half a dozen casinos. But, each of them will still need to separately request for approval in case they want to start online or mobile betting services.
Casinos in the state have been closed since March 16th; leading the state to lose more than $100 million in the first month they were forced by the pandemic to suspend operations. The casinos have taken tentative steps to return to normalcy. Casinos in many states have already resumed operations. For instance, Louisiana casinos started reopening on May 18th, while Indiana casinos are expected to reopen as early as June 15th.
The health safety guidelines released by the Illinois Gaming Board are quite similar to the guidelines implemented by casinos in Nevada, where gambling and entertainment venues reopened their doors to the public on June 4, 2020.