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Illinois casinos, slots in bars reopen Wednesday
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Illinois casinos, slots in bars reopen Wednesday

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Patrons play slots at the Rivers Casino in Des Plaines, Illinois. The Illinois Gaming Board has authorized the state's 10 casinos and the more than 35,000 slots in bars to reopen amid the coronavirus pandemic at 9 a.m. Wednesday.

Northwest Indiana's five Lake Michigan casinos soon no longer will be the only game in town.

The Illinois Gaming Board has authorized the state's 10 casinos, along with the more than 35,000 slot machines located in Illinois bars, restaurants, truck stops and elsewhere, to reopen to gamblers beginning at 9 a.m. Wednesday.

"The Gaming Board worked with the governor's office, the Illinois Department of Public Health, and the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity to develop a gaming resumption process that protects the public health of patrons and employees, while restarting gaming activities in meaningful way," said Marcus Fruchter, Gaming Board administrator.

Gaming in Illinois shut down March 16 to minimize the potential spread of the coronavirus.

The Indiana Gaming Commission also ordered the Hoosier State's 13 casinos to lock their doors the same day.

Indiana's casinos reopened June 15 after an unprecedented three-month shutdown, while Illinois generally has been slower to reopen all sectors of its economy due to the state's higher COVID-19 case count.

On Wednesday, the reopened Illinois casinos will feature many of the same health and safety protections already in place at Indiana's casinos, including face mask usage, social distancing requirements, enhanced sanitation standards and limited capacity.

Gamblers playing slot machines in Illinois bars also will be required to wear a face mask, may find some terminals turned off to maintain social distancing and must check in with an attendant before sitting down to play.

"The video and casino gaming industry have worked cooperatively and professionally with the Gaming Board to develop best practices that create the safest possible environment for gaming, while adhering to (state and federal health agency) guidance," Fruchter said.

"We appreciate their cooperation and work toward the mutual goal of a resumption that protects the safety and integrity of Illinois gaming."

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