Illinois Casinos to Close Friday as COVID-19 Cases Rise

Illinois Casinos to Close Friday as COVID-19 Cases Rise
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Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker has announced that casinos and video gaming operations will close beginning Friday as the state deals with record numbers of coronavirus cases.

Pritzker, who had extended remote registration for new sports bettors in the state last week, announced the new Tier 3 restrictions for gambling in Illinois on Tuesday. Theaters must also close while restaurants and bars, museums, health and fitness centers, hotels and other businesses where people gather face new restrictions, including lowering capacity limits.

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“To stop this spread and preserve some semblance of the holidays, all of us need to do more than just wear our masks now — though masks are mandatory throughout the state,” Pritzker said in a news release. “The simple fact is that COVID-19 is spreading so quickly and so widely, and our hospitals are beginning to experience real strain and at the current infection rate they will be overwhelmed. So whenever possible, we need you to stay home.

“I’m hopeful that by limiting our in-person interactions, we will succeed at avoiding a stay at home order like what we had in the spring – when the choice between saving lives and saving livelihoods was even more stark. Tier 3 may allow us to do both. Like in other states like Michigan and California and Washington, it’s our best effort to avoid a stay-at-home order and save lives.”

No end date was given for the new restrictions, but the state department of health will “continue to track the positivity rates and hospital capacity metrics in regions over 14-day monitoring periods to determine if mitigations can be relaxed, if additional mitigations are required, or if current mitigation should remain in place,” the release said.

Illinois has been seeing more than 10,000 cases a day for nearly two weeks, including 15,415 on Nov. 13, the day Pritzker extended his executive order allowing for remote registration for sports betting until at least Dec. 12. Sportsbooks can continue to register new bettors online.

States Looking at New Restrictions

Other states are considering new coronavirus restrictions as the coronavirus cases rise across the U.S. Michigan on Sunday announced that the three Detroit commercial casinos would close effective Wednesday for at least three weeks. Tribal casinos in Michigan, not subject to the mandate, are making decisions on whether to close or stay open on a case-by-case basis.

Colorado, which has more than 30 casinos, said Monday that casinos could continue operating but will have reduced levels of 25% of posted capacity and can’t exceed 50 people per room, according to published reports.

Illinois Sports Betting Surging

The Illinois sports betting handle in September reached $305 million, according to the latest numbers released Friday by the state. Of that, $283 million — 92.7% — of the amount wagered was on mobile. The handle was the fourth-highest among legal sports betting states in September.

The mobile total in September was a 128.3% increase over the amount wagered on mobile in August.

Because of Pritzker’s extension, BetRivers, DraftKings, FanDuel, PointsBet and William Hill can continue signing up new bettors remotely. Although casinos will have to close, bettors will still be able to place bets online.