Capacity and operating hours will be reduced at DraftKings at Casino Queen and Argosy Casino Alton, two of the four casinos where sports betting is currently live in Illinois, for at least next two weeks starting Tuesday.
Both casinos are in Region 4 of the state, which was carved into 11 regions to allow a more nimble response to fluctuations in COVID-19 cases across Illinois. Region 4, which includes seven counties in the southwest portion of the state and covers East St. Louis where both DraftKings at Casino Queen and Argosy Casino Alton are located, averaged or exceeded a positive test rate of at least 8% in each of the three days from Friday-Sunday, triggering further mitigation measures.
“Region 4 of our statewide 11 reopening regions – the Metro East – has now surpassed an 8 percent seven-day rolling average positivity rate – a trend that I have made clear would trigger stricter mitigations when this plan was announced in July,” Gov. J.B. Pritzker said in a statement Sunday. “Working with local officials in the Metro East region and across the border in St. Louis, we are implementing stricter mitigations that account for the unique factors in this region. Dr. Ezike and I are imploring local leaders and residents alike: if you haven’t been taking this seriously yet, now is the time to start.”
Per the state’s Department of Health website, further mitigation as it pertains to the casinos includes a closing time of 11 p.m. and 25% capacity. The 11 p.m. closing time also synchronizes with bars and restaurants throughout Region 4 and across the border in St. Louis, Mo. The further mitigation measures will be in place for at least the next two weeks, and if the average positivity rate falls below 6.5% for the 14-day period, Region 4 could then return to the Phase 4 mitigation plans of Restore Illinois currently in place across the rest of the state.
When the Illinois Gaming Board allowed casinos to reopen July 1, capacity for each of the 10 venues was established at 50%. Rivers Casino in Des Plaines and Grand Victoria Casino via William Hill in Elgin are the other two retail sportsbooks currently in operation in Illinois, while Rivers — through BetRivers — and DraftKings at Casino Queen are currently the only two mobile sportsbooks available.
Mitigation measures latest hurdle for DraftKings in Illinois
Illinois: DraftKings Sportsbook will be second digital platform in the state, but without remote registration, patrons will have to drive to East St. Louis to sign up.https://t.co/SKNZ4zih5S
— Sports Handle (@sports_handle) August 5, 2020
DraftKings’ run-up and launch in Illinois has been arduous to say the least. Prior to taking its first bets at Casino Queen earlier this month, it had conducted an aggressive ad campaign in the Chicago market and the state to encourage players to register online in an effort to take advantage of the suspension of in-person registration by Pritzker via Executive Order.
When the governor opted not to renew that original Executive Order for a second time late last month, though, it restored the in-person registration provision in the bill he signed into law that legalized sports betting in June 2019 before DraftKings could go live via online and mobile. As a result, patrons have go to a physical casino to register for an online account. In the case of DraftKings, that means an approximately five-hour drive from Chicago to East St. Louis.
Ya know, since you decided to remove remote registration during a pandemic. https://t.co/SAwQPqqjXG
— Joe Ostrowski (@JoeO670) August 16, 2020
The Argosy was the second casino to accept sports wagers in Illinois back in March, shortly after Rivers, and has yet to formally file a request to commence online wagering with the Illinois Gaming Board.
“While we have not had any confirmed cases at our property, we continue to work closely with the Illinois Gaming Board, state and local leaders, and public health officials to ensure that we are following all necessary health and safety protocols,” an Argosy Casino Alton spokesperson said in an e-mail to Sports Handle. “Our updated hours of operation will be 9 a.m.-11 p.m. daily.”