Illinois to shut down casinos, VLT locations on Friday to mitigate COVID-19 spread Howard Stutz, CDC Gaming Reports · November 18, 2020 at 7:19 am For the second time this year, Illinois will close its gaming industry due to a surge in coronavirus cases. Gov. J.B. Pritzker, who announced the COVID-19 mitigation efforts at a Tuesday news conference, did not provide a specific date for when gaming could resume. The shutdown will begin at 12:01 a.m. Friday. The order limits capacity at Illinois retail operations and closes all of the state’s museums as well as its 10 riverboat casinos. Impacted by the move are Caesars Entertainment and Penn National Gaming, which each operate three Illinois casinos; Boyd Gaming and Rush Street Gaming, which each operate one; DraftKings, which has licensed its name to the operators of Casino Queen; and the privately held Jumer’s, currently in the process of being sold to Bally’s Corp. Deutsche Bank gaming analyst Carlo Santarelli noted the Illinois shutdown follows Michigan, where the governor ordered the state’s three commercial casinos in Detroit to close Tuesday night for three weeks due to the spreading pandemic. COVID-19 restrictions in Philadelphia have forced River Casino Philadelphia to close starting Friday. “In addition, multiple states have implemented more stringent restrictions to combat COVID-19 in recent weeks, though haven’t gone as far as to close the casinos,” Santarelli said in a note to investors Tuesday afternoon. “We think it is unrealistic to assume this is the last of the closures, especially with the light at the end of the tunnel identifiable with the vaccine.” The restrictions also forced the shutdown of Illinois’ video gaming market, which is one of the nation’s largest with 37,459 games in 7,135 locations around the state, including bars, taverns, restaurants, convenience stores, fraternal lodges, gas stations, and truck stops. Both Penn National and Boyd own slot machine route operations in Illinois that service the locations. Santarelli told investors that Penn generated roughly 6% of its net revenue in 2019 from its three Illinois casinos, while Boyd generated 4% of its 2019 net revenue from its Par-A-Dice Casino in East Peoria and its slot route. Representatives for Penn, Caesars, and Boyd declined to comment. Illinois health officials reported 12,601 new cases of coronavirus on Tuesday, the 12th straight day with more than 10,000 cases. Over the past week, Illinois averaged has 12,381 new cases per day. Pritzker said the mitigations were put into place to avoid a stay-at-home order for Illinois residents. According to the Chicago Sun-Times, he said the effort would “pause a number of indoor activities where the science shows us this virus can most easily spread.” On March 15, Illinois became the first state to halt gaming operations due to the spreading coronavirus pandemic. The original plan was to close casinos for 14 days, but the shutdown lasted until July 1. Meanwhile, in Ohio, residents will fall under stay at home curfew between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. starting Thursday. Gov. Mike DeWine announced the change Tuesday after the state’s daily positive COVID-19 rate spiked above 7,000 cases. Casinos won’t close under the order, but DeWine spokesman Dan Tierney told the Cincinnati Enquirer it would be hard to justify an emergency visit to a gaming establishment. The American Gaming Association highlighted Ohio as one of five states that saw gaming revenues increase in the three-month period that ended Sept. 30 compared to a year ago. Ohio casinos and racetrack casinos increased revenues by 7.5% during the quarter. The state health order requires Ohioans to stay at home, but offers exceptions for work, shopping for essential supplies, medical care, and emergencies. Howard Stutz is the executive editor of CDC Gaming Reports. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @howardstutz on Twitter.