IGB Sets Casino Reopening Measures

The Illinois Gaming Board has set a number of health and safety requirements that casinos and resorts must adhere to once casinos are reopened to visitors. While the measures mirror closely those that were adopted by Nevada, there has still been no words as to when exactly the state’s casinos can reopen.

The skyline of Chicago, Illinois overlaid with coronavirus strain.

The Illinois Gaming Board has outlined a number of protocols to ensure public and employee safety once the casino coronavirus-closures are ended. ©Matryx/Pixabay

The protocols set by the Illinois Gaming Board (IGB) will apply to the 10 gaming establishments across the state. It is hoped that now they know exactly what conditions will need to be met in order to accept guests, casinos can move toward being ready for opening.

Casinos have been closed in Illinois since March 16 as a response to the outbreak of the coronavirus. As gambling revenues are instrumental to Illinois’ state funding, Governor J.B. Pritzker has already enacted several plans to give gaming a boost. This includes the recent changes to mobile betting registration requirements.

The health and safety requirements listed by the IGB include as follows:

  • Six-foot social distancing between patrons and employees must be observed and enforced.
  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), including face masks, must be worn by visitors and employees. Visitors must be able to have access to PPE if they are without, and PPE must be distributed to employees at no cost.
  • Cleaning, disinfecting, and sanitizing procedures must be enhanced. All facilities must be deep cleaned, sanitized and disinfected before reopening.
  • Employees and patrons must be screened for fever and other flu-like symptoms before they enter casinos. Anyone who doesn’t pass screening tests must be denied entry.
  • Extensive signage must be used in gaming properties to remind patrons and employees of social distancing requirements, frequent hand washing, use of sanitizers and PPE and warnings to stay home if feeling sick.
  • Employees must undergo training on everything from how to use PPE, how to enforce social distancing and how to spot potential coronavirus symptoms.
  • Frequent monitoring and reporting of coronavirus cases must be adopted.
  • Occupancy of hotels and gaming floors must be reduced to 50 percent of that allowed by the facility’s fire code.
  • Detailed reopening plans on how licensees will adhere to these and further procedures must be submitted and approved by the IGB.

The IGB was prompted to develop and implement health and safety procedures as a part of Governor Pritzker’s Restore Illinois Plan. This plan was a response to the economic disruption caused by the coronavirus and seeks to help recover some of the heavy financial losses incurred by the closure of state industry.

In a press release announcing the measures, IGB Administrator Marcus Fruchter hinted that the timing of casino reopenings will be linked to how quickly casinos adopt the protocols.

“The IGB is committed to the safe, fair, deliberate, consistent, and regulatory compliant resumption of casino gambling. The timing and conditions for such a resumption will be based upon public health guidance and metrics, and will proceed within the framework of Governor Pritzker’s Restore Illinois plan.”Marcus Fruchter, Job Administrator, Illinois Gaming Board via an official press release

For the time being, officials in Illinois are also looking to Nevada and neighboring Indiana for the effectiveness of the health and safety measures. The IGB has repeatedly affirmed that its coronavirus policies will be informed by data, science, and the advice of the Illinois Department of Health.

IGB Grants More Sports Betting Licenses

Last Thursday, the IGB held its first meeting since January. In order to ensure the safety of its ten-member panel, the meeting was held by videoconference and addressed everything from discussing the casino reopening requirements to granting sports betting licenses for a number of casinos.

The $10 million four-year master sports wagering licenses were granted to seven casinos to help fast track the launch of mobile wagering. The new licensees include the Rivers in Des Plaines, the Hollywood in Aurora and Joliet, Argosy in Alton, Grand Victorin in Elgin, Par-A-Dice in East Peoria, and Casino Queen in East St. Louis.

The remaining gaming establishments yet to be approved for licensing include the state’s three horse racing tracks such as the Arlington International Racecourse. Illinois’ sports betting laws also allow major sporting venues to apply for licenses, while online-only sportsbooks must wait 18 months until they can apply.

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