Illinois Casinos Close Just As Legal Sports Betting Begins In The State

Posted on March 17, 2020

As the country continues to experience more lockdowns and closures due to the outbreak of COVID-19, Illinois casinos began a 14-day shutdown on Monday at the request of the Illinois Gaming Board.

Rivers Casino in Des Plaines suspended its operations with a press release on Friday before an announcement from the Illinois Gaming Board. This came shortly after most of the sports leagues and organizations in the country announced cancellations and suspensions, making sportsbooks temporarily inactive outside of futures bets.

Per Rivers’ press release: “In the best interests of our Team Members, guests and the Chicagoland community, we are temporarily closing Rivers Casino Des Plaines effective Sunday, March 15, for fourteen days. Although there have been no known cases of COVID-19 at the property, we are suspending operations out of an abundance of caution and to promote the social distancing recommended by health officials. Rivers will provide all 1,500 Rivers Team Members their full pay and benefits, including tops, during this time. We will post updates as they become available.”

Not long after, the Illinois Gaming Board followed suit by ordering all Illinois casinos to close down beginning on Monday, effectively moving Rivers’ scheduled closure back one more day.

 

Rough timing for new sportsbooks

Rivers had just opened Illinois’ first sportsbook on March 9 after a long process that was pushed through in time to accept bets for March Madness, which is the largest sports betting event in the US due to its length and amount of games. The NCAA ended that possibility when it canceled the NCAA Tournament last week after most conferences canceled their conference tournaments amidst the growing outbreak of the coronavirus.

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced Thursday that all events with more than 1,000 people should be shut down, which Rivers said effectively made its decision to close.

NHL star Eddie Olczyk placed the first legal sports bet in Illinois on Monday at Rivers.

But the NHL was officially suspended by Thursday, which was preceded by MLB announcing a postponement. The NBA was the first to take direct action after Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday night. That positive test essentially pushed most of the sports world into closure within the next 24 hours.

 

Argosy Casino Alton sportsbook opening pushed back

The Argosy Casino Alton was gearing up to be the second sportsbook opened in Illinois on Monday, but that will now be pushed back to whenever casinos are given the go-ahead to open back up. Given the current scale of the coronavirus pandemic, it can be assumed it will be much longer than the current 14 days ordered from the Illinois Gaming Board.

Many NBA officials have cited June as a potential return. The CDC recommended on Sunday that no events or gatherings of 50 or more people take place for eight weeks. That would push back Argosy’s opening and the return of the state’s 10 casinos to the middle of May.

The Illinois Gaming Board also announced on Monday that all of the state’s video gaming machines be shut down for two weeks. Most of the machines would already be inaccessible after Gov. Pritzker’s order that all restaurants and bars can only be used for take-out.

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Tyler Duke

Tyler Duke graduated from Kennesaw State in 2017 and lives in Atlanta, GA. In six years of journalism experience he has covered the Braves, Hawks and Georgia Tech for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Fox Sports South and SB Nation. Duke has been a content producer for the PGA Tour since 2018.

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