The Illinois Gaming Board released its casino reopening protocols Tuesday, offering cleaning and social distancing guidelines to the 10 casinos across the Land of Lincoln.
The IGB did not offer a specific date when casinos across Illinois can reopen but “is committed to the safe, fair, deliberate, consistent, and regulatory compliant resumption of casino gambling,” said Administrator Marcus Fruchter in a statement. “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.”
Illinois is currently in Phase 3 of Restore Illinois, and Pritzker, who signed a $12 billion capital bill into law last June that legalized sports betting and expanded gaming, has previously stated the earliest the state could enter Phase 4 is June 26. At that point, gatherings of up to 50 people are allowed, though Fruchter stated that casino plans submitted “shall detail occupancy requirements that allow up to 50% of the maximum capacity allowed under the fire code in each facility.”
Casinos in Illinois have been closed since mid-March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with the March 16 closing date coming one week after Rivers Casino in Des Plaines was the first to accept legalized bets on sports.
Some similarities to other states on reopening paths
Some of the guidelines the IGB established are similar to regulatory agencies from other states including neighboring Indiana and Michigan. Six-foot social distancing guidelines will be the norm throughout casinos, while poker rooms, table tournament games, and buffet food services will remain closed at the initial reopening.
The IGB is requiring personal protection equipment (PPE) for all employees and patrons, with PPE provided at no cost to casino employees. Employees will also undergo daily health screenings and receive training on “social distancing, COVID-19 exposure mitigation strategies, recognition of COVID-19 symptoms, and procedures of reporting COVID-19 exposure.”
Casinos are also required to submit thorough cleaning, disinfecting, and sanitizing procedures, and it appears the IGB is leaving the frequency and interval of those cleanings up to the casinos. Casinos also must detail how six-foot social distancing guidelines involving table games, sportsbook areas, and the gaming floor will be “observed and enforced.”
The IGB protocols make no mention of the use of plexiglass partitions for employees or patrons anywhere in the casino, nor do they specify the maximum number of patrons at any specific table games such as roulette, blackjack, and craps.
Rivers to use plexiglass
Spokesperson Patrick Skarr said “installation of plexiglass is already underway” at Rivers’ Des Plaines location, noting to Sports Handle that “the IGB’s framework is similar to other jurisdictions, including Pennsylvania where Rivers Pittsburgh had a successful re-open yesterday.” Skarr added the casino “will listen for additional direction from the IGB at (Thursday’s) meeting.”