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Illinois introduces new restrictions amid Covid-19 spike


The Illinois Gaming Board has announced new restrictions for land-based gambling facilities in the state in response to an increase in novel coronavirus (Covid-19) cases.

According to the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), the Metro East region of the state has exceeded its criteria that trigger additional measures to slow any further spread of Covid-19.

IDPH figures show Metro East’s positive test rate averaged at least 8% for three consecutive days from August 14-16. As such, restrictions will now be put in place for the region that includes the Bond, Clinton, Madison, Monroe, Randolph, St. Clair and Washington counties.

Effective from 11pm local time yesterday (August 18), video gaming operations at all licensed locations in the region are only permitted between 8am and 11pm.

These hours will also apply to all licensed gambling operations at the DraftKings at Casino Queen and Alton Argosy casinos, while occupancy at the facilities will be limited to 25% of fire code capacity.

“Failure to comply with mitigation efforts could subject licensees to discipline, up to and including license revocation,” the Illinois Gaming Board said.

The IDPH will continue to monitor the positivity rate in Metro East for the next 14 days and if the rate falls to a safe level by the end of this period – 6.5% or lower – then the restrictions could be relaxed.

However, if the positivity rate averages between 6.5% and 8%, the restrictions will remain in place. If the rate exceeds this range, the IDPH could implement stricter measures to slow spread of the virus, which may include closing indoor bars and dining areas.

Illinois casinos were permitted to reopen from 1 July, having been forced to temporarily close in mid-March in line with state regulations to combat the spread of Covid-19.

The restriction on occupancy means consumers will still be able to register in-person to play online sports betting.

In June, Governor J.B. Pritzker signed an Executive Order that relaxed rules requiring players to register in-person to access online betting, as this had not been possible due to the closure of casinos.

However, after casinos reopened last month, Pritzker failed to extend this order, meaning players must again register in-person in order to access such services.