Illinois gaming regulators order 14-day shutdown of the state’s riverboat casinos Howard Stutz, CDC Gaming Reports · March 13, 2020 at 8:24 pm The Illinois Gaming Board on Friday ordered the state’s 10 riverboat casinos to cease operations for 14 days, starting Monday, due to the coronavirus outbreak. According to a statement posted to the board’s website, the facilities were ordered to suspend all gambling operations. “The public health of patrons, casino employees, IGB staff, and others is of paramount importance,” the board said in a brief statement. “The Board is continuously monitoring developments and will update licensees and the public as frequently as possible.” Illinois is the first state in the U.S. to order the closure of its entire casino market due to the coronavirus outbreak. On Friday, Boyd Gaming Corp. closed its Valley Forge Casino Resort near Philadelphia as part of a directive by Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf, who ordered the closure of all public schools, entertainment venues and community centers in Montgomery County due to local cases of coronavirus. Wolf later extended the order to include all schools in the state. Las Vegas-based Boyd also operates the Pair-A-Dice hotel-casino in East Peoria. Penn National Gaming operates three riverboat casinos in Illinois – Argosy Casino Alton, Hollywood Casino Joliet, and Hollywood Casino Aurora. “The health and well-being of our guests and team members will always be our paramount concern,” Penn National CEO Jay Snowden said in a statement late Friday. “As for our 1,200 team members who will be impacted by this temporary closure, we plan to continue to pay their full wages and benefits for the 14 day period.” Snowden called the situation “a challenging time for all of us, and we are very appreciative of the overwhelming support and understanding from our guests and team members. ” He said the company had implemented numerous steps to meet the Center for Disease Control-recommended protocols throughout the casinos. “We look forward to reopening our doors just as soon as possible,” Snowden said. Earlier Friday, the operators of Rivers Casino in Des Plaines said it would close its casino after Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Thursday called on establishments statewide to cancel gatherings of 250 people or more. Rivers is operated by Rush Street Gaming, a minority owner. The property is majority-owned by Churchill Downs. In the best interests of our team members, guests and the Chicagoland community, we are temporarily closing Rivers Casino Des Plaines effective Sunday for 14 days,” Rivers executives said in a statement emailed to CDC Gaming Reports. “Although there have been no known cases of COVID-19 at the property, we are suspending operations out of an abundance of caution and to promote the social distancing recommended by health officials. We will continue normal payroll for (employees) during the14-day suspension” Illinois’s riverboat casinos brought in almost $1.4 billion in gaming revenue in 2019. The market, however, has been under pressure for several years from the growing Illinois video lottery terminal business, which sliced into the casino figures. Last year, Illinois lawmakers approved the nation’s largest gaming industry expansion to an existing market in more than a decade – six new casinos, including one in Chicago, legalized sports betting, and expanded video lottery locations. Ultimately, Illinois could add up to 30,000 more slot machines in the next four years. At last count, the state has more 32,000 video lottery terminals operating in more than 7,100 bars, taverns, and liquor stores, while the state’s nine casinos have roughly 12,000 slot machines. Caesars Entertainment operates Harrah’s Joliet and Harrah’s Metropolis and Eldorado Resorts operates the Grand Victoria in Elgin. The Casino Queen in East St. Louis is employee-owned and Jummer’s Casino Hotel in Rock Island is owned by Delaware North. Howard Stutz is the executive editor of CDC Gaming Reports. He can be reached at email@example.com. Follow @howardstutz on Twitter.