Rivers Des Plaines Expansion Hits Milestone; Illinois Reinstates Casino Mask Order

Posted on: August 31, 2021, 06:44h. 

Last updated on: August 31, 2021, 03:16h.

Monday marked a key milestone in the expansion of the Rivers Des Plaines, as workers installed the final steel beam on the $87 million project at Illinois’ top casino.

Rivers Des Plaines
On Monday, construction workers at the Rivers Des Plaines Casino in the Chicago suburbs hoist the final steel beam on a 78,000-square-foot expansion project that will open next year and lead to 400 new jobs, (Image: Mark Black/Rivers Des Plaines)

Casino executives, local officials, and representatives from local unions involved in the construction project celebrated the occasion by signing the final beam before workers installed it.

Work on the 78,000-square-foot project began in February. When complete, the two-floor project will enable the suburban Chicago casino to be the first in Illinois to offer 2,000 seats on the gaming floor. Other items included in the expansion are a 22-table poker room, a restaurant, and a 10,000-square-foot ballroom for additional entertainment options, as well as private events.

Rivers, owned by Churchill Downs Inc. and Rush Street Gaming, ranks as the biggest Illinois casino in terms of revenue generated, and none of the other competitors approaches them. Data compiled by the Illinois Gaming Board through the first seven months of the year shows Rivers has generated 1.2 million of the 4.1 million admissions for the year.

It holds an even greater share of the revenue generated. Through July, Rivers’ adjusted gross receipts total $246.9 million. Combined, the state’s 10 casinos generated $650.2 million. Rivers revenue in that span is nearly $38 million more than the next three casinos on the list.

Rivers Expansion Leads to 400 New Jobs

According to the Rivers Des Plaines general manager, the expansion project remains on pace to open by next spring.

Rivers will open the expanded area in phases. Casino management expects the main level to open in the first quarter of 2022. That ground floor addition includes the restaurant and expanded gaming space for slots and table games. The second-floor space, which will include the poker room and ballroom is expected to be ready by the spring.

The new space isn’t the only expansion Rivers Des Plaines has in place in the coming months. Casino officials announced they’re also looking to fill 400 positions to go along with the new amenities. That figure includes 250 table dealers.

In June, Rush Street announced it was increasing the minimum wage for entry-level, non-tipped workers to $15 per hour. With benefits, including insurance and 401(k) contributions, company officials said the “effective” wage becomes $25 an hour.

Pritzker Orders Masks Back On in Illinois Casinos

Monday also marked the return of a mask mandate in Illinois casinos. That decision comes as part of a larger public indoor order issued last Thursday by Gov. J.B. Pritzker and Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike.

The requirement comes as Illinois is seeing an increase in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. All residents ages 2 and older, regardless of vaccination status, must wear one in any indoor setting.

We have safe, proven, and effective tools to turn the tide and end this pandemic,” Ezike said in a statement.  “But until more people are vaccinated, masks are the order of the day and will help us slow the spread of the virus.”

Casinos found not in compliance with the mask order will face sanctions, and those could include the loss of their license. Capacity levels remain, however, at 100 percent. In addition, as of Tuesday morning, the state continues to require in-person registration for new mobile sports betting accounts.