More Games, More People, Fewer Masks As Illinois, Casinos Ready To Enter Phase 5

Posted By Joe Boozell on June 3, 2021

Illinois is on schedule to start Phase 5 reopening on June 11, said Gov. JB Pritzker earlier this week. Under this next and final reopening phase, all remaining capacity limits will not remain.

That’s excellent news for the 10 casinos in Illinois. They’ve either been closed entirely or operating at limited capacity since March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Currently, Illinois casinos are open at 60% capacity. Illinois entered the “Bridge Phase” on May 14, which bumped up capacity limits from 50% to 60%.

We might not see every Illinois casinos fully reopen on June 11, but they likely will shortly thereafter.

Here are Illinois 10 casinos:

  • Argosy Casino, Alton
  • DraftKings at Casino Queen, East St. Louis
  • Grand Victoria Casino, Elgin
  • Harrah’s Casino, Joliet
  • Harrah’s Casino, Metropolis
  • Hollywood Casino, Aurora
  • Hollywood Casino, Joliet
  • Jumer’s Casino & Hotel, Rock Island
  • Par-A-Dice Casino, East Peoria
  • Rivers Casino, Des Plaines

Do I have to wear a mask at the casino?

Per CDC guidelines, masks are no longer required at most Illinois casinos if you are fully vaccinated for COVID-19. We expect that policy to continue as capacity limits rise.

Food and beverage service is also now permitted at the facilities. For a large chunk of the pandemic, it was not.

Are Illinois poker rooms open?

As of mid-May, Illinois poker rooms have the green light to reopen. However, only one has taken advantage thus far.

That is Hollywood Casino Aurora, which reopened its poker room on May 21. Grand Victoria Casino Elgin plans to reopen its poker room soon, though no firm date is known.

Meanwhile, Jumer’s Casino & Hotel hasn’t provided any updates on its poker room status.

No more restrictions on table games?

Currently, “congregating” around table games (craps, roulette, blackjack, etc.) and carnival games is prohibited at casinos, per the Illinois Gaming Board website.

Once we enter Phase 5, that should no longer be the case. However, each casino can set its own rules, and can lift this restriction if it chooses.

If you’ve been to a casino during the pandemic and noticed that every other slot machine is blocked off, that should also be no more.

Again, the casinos will be able to decide if they’d like to keep the rule in place. But one would expect them to create the most robust gambling experience possible.

What is Illinois’ COVID-19 situation?

Casinos can fully reopen thanks to improving COVID-19 and vaccination metrics.

The Land of Lincoln reported only 401 new cases and eight deaths on Tuesday, while positivity rates continue to sink to all-time lows. Illinois is also at an all-time low mark for hospitalizations.

Meanwhile, more than 12 million COVID-19 vaccine shots have been given in the state. About 40% of Illinoisans are fully vaccinated.

Will there eventually be online casinos in Illinois?

There is some legislative momentum for online casinos in Illinois. However, expanded internet gaming did not pass in the recent May session.

With that said, there is reason to think Illinois could have online casinos in the future. The Senate passed a resolution calling for a report into how much revenue that online casinos could have generated had they been live prior to COVID-19.

That signals interest from the legislature to learn more. And seeing as how lawmakers introduced online casino bills in the House and Senate, certain key figures are already on board.

While it’s good news that brick-and-mortar casinos are reopening, online casinos would create an another reliable revenue stream for them. COVID-19 was particularly tough on the casino industry, and without an online presence, they especially suffered.

So, in the short term, we won’t have online casinos in the Land of Lincoln. But fast-forward a few years, and it wouldn’t be at all surprising to see a bustling Illinois online casino market.

Photo by AP file photo
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Joe Boozell

Joe Boozell has also been a college sports writer for NCAA.com since 2015. His work has also appeared in Bleacher Report, FoxSports.com and NBA.com. Growing up, Boozell squared off against both Anthony Davis and Frank Kaminsky in the Chicagoland basketball scene ... you can imagine how that went.

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