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Indiana casinos likely to stay closed until at least mid-June
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Indiana casinos likely to stay closed until at least mid-June

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Slot machines

Slot machines are shown at Majestic Star Casino in this file photo. Indiana casinos could reopen in mid-June.

The state-mandated closure of Northwest Indiana's casino industry is likely to continue until at least mid-June, according to new guidance from the Indiana Gaming Commission.

In a brief statement, the IGC said the reopening of the Region's five casinos, and the eight other state-regulated gaming properties across Indiana, probably won't begin until Phase 4 of Gov. Eric Holcomb's "Back on Track" plan — tentatively scheduled for June 14.

"Please note that dates in the current plan are subject to change as new information emerges," the commission said. "No reopening dates have been determined at this time, as the decision is dependent upon information that is not yet available."

The governor's Back on Track plan is a gradual reopening of Indiana's economy amid the coronavirus pandemic that aims to get things back to "normal" by July 4, provided the anticipated increase in new COVID-19 cases due to the reopening does not overwhelm the capacity of hospitals to treat them.

In Phase 4, Indiana retailers and offices can reopen to full capacity, restaurants can offer dine-in service at 75% capacity, bars and nightclubs can reopen to 50% capacity, and other cultural, entertainment and tourism businesses can reopen at 50% capacity.

Approximately 5,000 employees of the casinos in Hammond, East Chicago, Gary and Michigan City, have been furloughed, and no longer are receiving a paycheck, since the state ordered casinos closed March 16.

Indiana also is poised to tally more than $175 million in lost gaming tax revenue for March, April, May and June, since the casinos likely will reopen with reduced capacity, such as every other slot machine turned off, to maintain social distancing between patrons.

Four Winds Casino in South Bend, which is not subject to state gaming regulations since it's located on sovereign land of the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians, also remains closed "until further notice," even as tribal casinos in Idaho and Washington reopened this week and a tribal casino in Michigan's upper peninsula is scheduled to reopen next Saturday.

Likewise, the Illinois Gaming Board has shuttered all casinos and licensed video gaming in Illinois restaurants and bars until further notice, in part because Gov. J.B. Pritzer's "Restore Illinois" plan is expected to lag Indiana's reopening by several months.

"The Gaming Board is monitoring developments regarding COVID-19 and will continue to make decisions based on science, public health guidance and applicable law and rules."

Gallery: Regionites show off shaggy hairdos, DIY cuts during quarantine

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