No Deal: Illinois Gaming Officials Say Casinos Will Reopen Without Poker

3 min read

In a bad beat for players, Illinois casinos won’t allow poker when they reopen. That’s according to the Illinois Gaming Board, which is setting regulations for how health and safety will be maintained when casinos reopen.

Harrah's Joilet
Illinois casinos like Harrah’s Joilet hope to turn the lights back on later this month, but they won’t be able to deal poker games when they do. (Image: Enjoy Illinois)

Officials have provided no date for when the state’s casinos can reopen, nor have they specified how long poker players will have to wait for a seat at the table once gaming resumes.

Tight Restrictions for Illinois Casinos

The Chicago Sun-Times notes that casinos in nearby Indiana will welcome gamblers starting as early as Monday, June 15. Before gaming can resume in Illinois, however, each casino must submit a health and safety plan, including details on cleaning and disinfecting their facilities, keeping gamblers apart, and on providing personal protective equipment to employees.

Illinois’ restrictions are stronger than those in some other jurisdictions that have already opened up, including Nevada, which allowed casinos to resume operations last week. While both states restrict capacity to 50%, eschew eating at the gaming tables, and forbid buffets, Illinois officials say poker cannot be played. Nevada is allowing poker, so long as games are five-handed or smaller.

Pennsylvania casinos are also prevented from running poker games in the first phase of that state’s casinos reopening, per state gaming board regulations.

Whereas masks are optional in many casinos across the US, casino patrons in Illinois must have some type of face covering.

“The IGB is committed to the safe, fair, deliberate, consistent, and regulatory compliant resumption of casino gambling,” Gaming Board administrator Marcus Fruchter said in a memo to casino operators. “The timing and conditions for such a resumption will be based upon public health guidance and metrics, and will proceed within the framework of Governor Pritzker’s Restore Illinois plan.”

Gaming Association Hopes for June 26 Opening

Illinois Casino Gaming Association Executive Director Tom Swoik told the Sun-Times he hopes casinos can reopen by June 26.

As with other state gaming boards, the IGB says it will adjust its regulations based on “current health conditions.” That indicates that poker rooms will eventually be allowed to reopen, even as the timeframe for when cards can be dealt remains uncertain.

Most of Illinois’ casinos offer poker, including Chicagoland Charity Poker in Arlington Heights, Grand Victoria Casino in Elgin, and Harrah’s Joilet in Joilet.

The Sun-Times reported that the state’s casinos lost more than $100 million in the first month after Pritzker shut down gaming operations on March 16, leaving about 5,000 people unemployed.

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