Illinois Shuts Casinos in New Effort to Contain Virus Spread

Casinos and other gambling facilities around Illinois will be among the indoor entertainment venues required to close doors beginning Friday, November 20, under a slew of new orders and restrictions announced by Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Tuesday.

The new restrictions are being imposed as the state grapples with fighting the aggressive spike in new Covid-19 cases.

This is the second time Illinois’ ten casinos and other gambling establishments have been ordered to close to help contain the spread of the coronavirus. Gov. Pritzker ordered the closure of all non-essential businesses in March when the dangerous virus first hit. The state’s casinos were then allowed to resume operations in early July at 50% capacity.

It is to be seen when the facilities will be allowed to resume operations this time. Under Gov. Pritzker’s new orders, video gambling terminals in restaurants and other venues will also be required to shut down beginning Friday.

Indoor dining and bar service is already prohibited in Illinois, including at the state’s casinos. Under the new orders, hotels will be required to close their event and meeting spaces, and limit room occupancy to registered guests. Their fitness centers will be required to operate with reservations only and at 25% capacity or otherwise shut down.

Extended Remote Betting Registration

Ahead of announcing the new measures and restrictions aimed at aborting the spread of the coronavirus, Gov. Pritzker last week extended once again the executive order that authorizes remote registration of sports betting accounts.

Under Illinois’ sports betting law, customers must complete an in-person registration process at physical wagering establishments in order to be able to bet remotely on desktop or via their smartphones.

Gov. Pritzker issued in June an executive order that temporarily lifted that requirement as casinos around the state were still shut. The Governor has extended the order several times since then. It was extended one more time last week and will remain valid for at least another month.

Sports betting in Illinois was off to a shaky start. The state’s first retail sportsbooks opened doors in early March, but operated for just a week before non-essential businesses were ordered to close. Gov. Pritzker’s order from June enabled locally licensed operators to finally go live with mobile betting.

The reopening of the physical betting establishments further helped the state’s nascent sports wagering industry gain traction.

According to the latest number released by the Illinois Gaming Board, the state’s retail and digital sportsbooks took more than $285 million in bets in September. Illinois bettors can place wagers on sporting events at seven casinos around the state, one horse racetrack, and several wagering apps. The majority of bets, around 92%, were placed namely via mobile devices.

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