The Covid effect on casinos has seen capacity and operating hours reduced for a minimum of two weeks at DraftKings at Casino Queen and Argosy Casino Alton, (two of four casinos where sports betting is currently played in Illinois).
Region 4, that has seven counties within the southwest portion of the state, where both DraftKings at Casino Queen and Argosy Casino Alton is located; had a positive test rate of around 8% which led to further mitigation measures.
According to the state’s Department of Health website, a further covid effect on casinos includes a requirement for the casinos to close at 11 p.m. and maintain a 25% capacity. The 11 p.m. closing time is also enforced with regards to bars and restaurants throughout Region 4 and across the border in St. Louis. The further mitigation measures will be in place for a fortnight, only being rolled back if the average positivity rate falls below 6.5% during that time.
When the Illinois Gaming Board allowed casinos to reopen on the 1st of July, the maximum capacity for all casinos was 50%. Rivers Casino in Des Plaines and Grand Victoria Casino via William Hill in Elgin are the other two sports betting casinos currently operating in Illinois, while Rivers and DraftKings at Casino Queen are currently the sole mobile sportsbooks available right now.
The Argosy was the second casino where sports wagers were permitted in Illinois shortly after Rivers. However, they have yet to formally file a request with the Illinois Gaming Board for a permit to commence online wagering. They recently announced that they have not confirmed any cases at their property but continue to work with the Illinois Gaming Board, state and native leaders, and public health officials to ensure that they are following all necessary health and safety protocols. They also confirmed their latest operating hours as 9 am until 11 pm daily.
The industry has lost around $390 million in revenue during the period of over 100 days it was closed. This doesn’t include the anticipated revenues due from sports wagering and some believe that over 50% of total revenue will be lost this year.
The reopening will mean that state and native tax dollars will start to flow again. Around $100 million in casino tax income was lost during the shutdown, and municipalities with casinos lost about $23 million in total revenue.
Even when the casinos open again it is not expected that crowds will reappear in similar numbers.
These funds go towards paying the salaries of policemen and firefighters, so it is clear that the city will have to be careful of its finances for a while.
Casinos across the state have implemented policies to keep their patrons safe like cleaning common areas, slot machines, cloth tabletops, chips, dice and cards. The temperatures of guests will be checked upon entry and they will be asked to sign a document affirming they don’t have COVID-19 and haven’t had contact with anyone who has had it.
With coronavirus infections across the U.S. rising, the likelihood is that casinos will close again however so longer-term effects are yet to be seen.