The city of Chicago has eased its COVID-19 guidelines, and the United Center is following suit.
Effective immediately, fans must present either proof of full vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test in order to enter. This is a change, as for the last several months, only proof of full vaccination sufficed.
The UC has also updated its mask policy. They are now completely optional as opposed to being mandatory, as they have been for the whole season.
It’s worth noting that anecdotally, the mask policy wasn’t being enforced and most fans have already been mask-less. At any rate, that is now official arena policy.
Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker announced a few weeks ago that the state’s indoor mask mandate would end on Monday, Feb. 28. There was never a statewide vaccine mandate.
There was only a vaccine mandate in Chicago and Cook County. It went into effect at the beginning of 2022, and with COVID-19 metrics sharply declining, the city is easing restrictions. Vaccine requirements will no longer be in place for most Chicago indoor venues, though businesses can keep the policy if they want.
March Madness is coming to the United Center
Not only will the new rules apply to Bulls and Blackhawks games, but they will also apply to March Madness.
Finally, Illinoisans will be able to bet on March Madness games being played in their home state online, as long as an Illinois team is not involved. The Midwest Regional, which is the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight, will take place at the United Center on March 25 and March 27.
By then, online sports betting registration will also be back in Illinois. In-person registration goes away on March 5, paving the way for what should be a robust month for the IL sports betting market.
Retail betting also coming to the United Center
There is not currently a retail sportsbook at the United Center. However, that will change in the coming years.
FanDuel and the UC announced a partnership earlier this year that will bring a sportsbook to the arena. It should be the second of its kind in the city, as Wrigley Field and DraftKings are on track to open up first.
Keep an eye out for that FanDuel United Center sportsbook to open in time for the 2023-24 basketball and hockey seasons.