Cook County has implemented a COVID-19 vaccine mandate, which means Rivers Casino in Des Plaines will now require you to show your proof of vaccination in order to enter the facility.
The move comes as the Omicron variant is spreading rapidly in Illinois. While the strain appears to be milder than previous versions, it spurred Chicago and Cook County health officials to introduce a vaccine mandate for indoor venues.
Cook County defines “fully vaccinated” as having two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or one dose of Johnson & Johnson. As of now, a booster is not required for entry.
You can show your official vaccination card, a picture of the card, or download a QR code from the Illinois Department of Health’s official portal.
Rivers Casino is the only Illinois casino in Cook County; therefore, it is the only one with a vaccine mandate, as this is not a statewide policy.
With that said, there are a few other venues of note that will require proof of vaccination.
Vaccine mandate at Chicago stadiums, Illinois sportsbooks
PointsBet has three retail sportsbooks in Cook County. The flagship is at Hawthorne Race Course in Stickney, while there are two OTBs in Crestwood and Prospect Heights.
You will now need to show proof of vaccination in order to enter.
Meanwhile, the United Center has had a vaccine and/or negative test requirement all season. However, excluding exemptions, the arena is now requiring proof of vaccination as of Jan. 3.
As for those exemptions, the UC’s website says:
For more information on the City of Chicago’s Vaccine Requirement, we encourage you to visit their FAQs here which detail specific guidance for exceptions.
Based on that guidance, any guests with medical or sincerely-held religious exemptions will be handled on a case-by-case basis with the United Center’s Guest Services team. Those individuals will need to bring proof of their previously received medical or religious exemption (i.e. a letter from their medical provider, workplace or religious leader documenting their exemption) and will also be required to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test administered by a healthcare professional no more than 72 hours prior to entering the United Center.
Wintrust Arena, home of DePaul basketball, is also requiring proof of vaccination to attend games.
And with baseball season a few months away, we don’t know whether Wrigley Field or Guaranteed Rate Field will have vaccine mandates. Neither did for the 2021 season, and it’s a different situation as they are outdoor venues.
Are masks required at Rivers Casino?
Yes, masks are still required at all of these venues.
With that said, there is no capacity limit at any of them. Earlier in the pandemic, there were long stretches of 25% or 50% capacity at casinos.
The exception to this rule is if you are actively eating or drinking.
How this affects IL sports betting registration
Illinois still has an in-person sports betting registration requirement.
Therefore, if you’re unvaccinated, you can’t sign up for a BetRivers or PointsBet account in IL.
That will change on March 5, as the in-person registration requirement will go away then. As for the vaccine mandate, there is not a timeline for how long it will be in effect.