COVID-19 Spike in Joliet Area Causes Illinois to Cut Hours, Capacity at Local Casinos

Posted on: August 27, 2020, 10:17h. 

Last updated on: August 28, 2020, 11:40h.

Two more Illinois casinos saw their hours of operation cut on Wednesday as COVID-19 continues to plague the state.

Illinois casinos
Harrah’s Joliet is one of two casinos in the Chicago suburb that will have its hours and capacity reduced for the next two weeks because of an increase in COVID-19 cases in the area. (Image: Wikimedia)

The Illinois Gaming Board (IGB) announced that gaming hours at Hollywood Casino Joliet and Harrah’s Casino Joliet will be from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. CT daily. The change in hours comes as the Joliet region, which includes Kankakee and Will counties in northeastern Illinois, surpassed an 8 percent positivity rate for coronavirus testing for three consecutive days, a benchmark established by state health officials in the fight to keep the virus from spreading.

In addition to the shortened hours, the state reduced capacity at the casinos from 50 percent to 25 percent. The new order also stipulates that indoor dining and beverage service at the casino is suspended, although outdoor and carryout is still available.

In addition, congregating around tables and games is prohibited. Masks also must be work at all times on the gaming floor

The Joliet casinos join DraftKings at Casino Queen in East St. Louis and the Argosy Casino Alton in having their hours and occupancy rates reduced. The two St. Louis suburban casinos received the order on Aug. 18.

Per the IGB, the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) will monitor the positivity rate in the Joliet region for 14 days, the same amount as it is in the St. Louis suburban area. If the rate dips below 6.5 percent over the two-week period, the restrictions will be relaxed. If the rate hovers between 6.5 to 8 percent, they will remain in effect, and if they continue to exceed 8 percent, tighter restrictions will take effect.

VGT Providers Also Affected

The casinos aren’t the only gaming venues affected by the COVID-19 order in Illinois.

The IGB also said the reduction in operating hours applies to video gaming operators, and the state’s Central Communications System will ensure the machines run only from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m.

The video gaming terminals are available in truck stops, convenience stores, cafes, and other commercial buildings across the state. Besides Kankakee and Will counties near Chicago, the order also applies to operators in Bond, Clinton, Madison, Monroe, Randolph, St. Clair, and Washington counties in the western part of the state.

Just like the casinos, indoor dining and beverage service is suspended for the time being. But outdoor dining and takeout is still available. Patrons playing the games must wear a mask, and officials set the capacity to one person per machine. No loitering is allowed around the games.

Mobile Sports Betting Registration Back, Too

With the number of COVID-19 cases increasing in Illinois, Gov. J.B. Pritzker last Friday restored an order waiving in-person registration for mobile sports betting accounts.

Pritzker initially implemented the order on June 4 and extended it for another 30 days on June 26. However, after the casinos reopened in the state, the governor let the order lapse on July 27.

At the time, only BetRivers had established mobile sports betting in the state. Currently, it is one of two mobile providers, with DraftKings being the other.

Pritzker’s move means Chicago-area residents and others in Illinois will not need to drive to East St. Louis to sign up for a DraftKings mobile account, nor will people have to drive to Rivers Des Plaines Casino to get the BetRivers app.