UPDATE: Hollywood Casino Aurora plans to reopen its poker room on Friday. See this page for important details.
All the poker rooms in Illinois are closed; however, for the first time in more than a year, they can reopen whenever they choose.
On Friday, the Illinois Gaming Board (IGB) sent a memo to the Illinois Casino Gaming Association (ICGA) saying that poker rooms and buffet service can now reopen, according to ICGA Executive Director Tom Swoik.
Casinos are still waiting on official guidelines regarding social distancing, masks, etc. But now, the ball is in their court.
Casinos are still operating at 50% capacity, as mandated by Phase 4 of its COVID-19 reopening guidelines. The pandemic situation continues to improve in the Land of Lincoln, so the capacity numbers should also rise in the coming weeks.
Illinois hopes to fully reopen on June 11
Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker announced last week that he plans to fully reopen the state on June 11, barring “any significant reversals in our key COVID-19 statewide indicators.”
That would mean casinos would be open at 100% capacity instead of 50%. Thus, it makes sense that casinos would have the ability to reopen poker rooms.
At this point, the decision is up to the casinos. One casino, Harrah’s Joliet, permanently closed its poker room during the pandemic.
It’s also worth noting that despite plans to reopen the state entirely, Illinois will still follow face mask guidelines from the CDC. So once casinos reopen poker rooms, there will still be a mask requirement.
On May 14, Illinois will enter the “bridge phase,” one step shy of full reopening. This phase will raise the capacity limit at most indoor venues from 50% to 60%.
The poker room guidelines appear to be in line with the move to the bridge phase.
Could there be online poker in Illinois soon?
There was a House Executive Committee hearing in late April, where lawmakers and witnesses discussed HB 3142. Proponents noted how online versions of casino games could support casinos during closures.
Detractors, meanwhile, cited the video gaming terminal (VGT) industry as a point against online casino. Some fear that online casino legalization could cannibalize the VGT industry.
The House is discussing online casino legislation throughout May, and it remains to be seen if it will pass anything gaming-related this session.
Given the lack of Illinois poker rooms, this would be significant for poker players in the Land of Lincoln.
How many casinos are in Illinois?
For the first time in over a year, Illinois casinos may reopen at full capacity in June.
In total, there are 10 casinos in Illinois. They are:
- Argosy Casino Alton
- DraftKings at Casino Queen
- Grand Victoria Casino Elgin
- Harrah’s Joliet
- Harrah’s Metropolis
- Hollywood Casino Aurora
- Hollywood Casino Joliet
- Jumer’s Casino & Hotel
- Par-A-Dice Casino
- Rivers Casino
There are also six additional casino licenses up for grabs, including the future Chicago casino. We will be tracking whether or not the new casinos plan to have poker rooms as we learn more details.