For months, lawmakers in Illinois have been working to expand the state’s gambling industry. This includes opening several new casinos in different areas of the state. Unfortunately, all Illinois casinos are closing due to concerns about the rapidly-spreading coronavirus.
This isn’t a total surprise. Many states may soon begin implementing similar measures. Today, we’re going to discuss the current plans and look at how this may affect the state’s gambling industry in the long run.
Let’s get into it!
Illinois’ Plans to Expand its Gambling Industry
Gambling has taken place in Illinois for over a century. For a time, however, lawmakers in the state worked to ban many traditional forms of gambling. Laws were eventually changed and the state began allowing casinos to open up in 1991.
Today, there are 10 different casinos here. Some are more popular than others, yet they all help to bring the state valuable revenue. Back in June, lawmakers announced they were planning to expand the state’s gambling industry.
That month, state officials approved a new capital plan that allows for six new casinos to open. The goal of this plan is to earn more revenue from the gaming industry. It even allows for one major casino-resort to open in Chicago.
Opening a casino in Chicago has proven to be more difficult than many expected, though. Lawmakers set an unusually high tax rate on this proposed gambling venue. As a result, no companies are bidding to operate the Chicago casino.
Hope was that some of the first new casinos would begin operating sometime this year. Based on the way things are moving, that may no longer be the case.
State Officials Announce that Illinois Casinos Are Set to Close
It’s clear that Illinois is beginning to truly embrace its gaming market. It was beginning to look like this may become one of the country’s next major gambling hubs. Unfortunately, the coronavirus is forcing all casinos here to close their doors.
Covid-19, the coronavirus originally found in Wuhan, has now spread to more than 125 countries and has infected at least 150,000 individuals. Most believe that the true number is considerably higher. Many more cases are beginning to appear in the United States, despite heavy quarantine efforts.
All Illinois casinos will be forced to close down on Monday for a period of 14 days. The Illinois Gaming Board released a statement on the situation to the media this week.
“The public health of patrons, casino employees, IGB staff, and others is of paramount importance,” the statement said. “The board is continuously monitoring developments and will update licensees and the public as frequently as possible.”
Whether or not this casino closure will be extended after 14 days is not entirely known. The decision will largely depend on whether or not more cases continue to appear in the state.
Sports Betting Options in Illinois Also Delayed
It’s tough to see Illinois casinos forced to close their doors. This will have a serious effect on their revenue earnings for the year. It’s also disappointing for sports fans, as the state’s first sportsbooks have just opened up.
This decision makes sense, though. Casinos are easy places for a virus to spread. A casino in Oregon was recently forced to close its doors due to an employee testing positive for Covid-19.
Illinois’ sportsbooks were expected to bring the state a huge amount of revenue. The state is known for having one of the most passionate sporting fan bases in the country. Due to the casinos closing, the ability to bet on sports here will now be delayed once again.
Of course, online sports betting was made legal in Illinois, as well. As of now, however, no state-regulated sports betting sites have begun operating here. Perhaps this will change over the next few weeks.
The coronavirus is already having a serious impact on the US gambling industry. It’s reasonable to assume that more casinos will eventually be forced to shut down. Stay tuned for updates over the next few months!