ROCK ISLAND, Ill — After having to close last November, Jumer's Casino & Hotel has gotten the all-clear to reopen in the new year.
Following a loosening of Tier 3 COVID-19 restrictions from Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker, the business is now able to reopen at 25% capacity under usual COVID-19 safety guidelines.
The resort was forced to close on November 20 as stronger pandemic restrictions were implemented to combat the post-Thanksgiving virus surge.
The casino opened again on Saturday, January 16, resuming its daily hours of 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. The amount of slot and table games will be reduced to comply with state safety guidelines. The Lucky North Club will be open 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday and 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.
“We are excited and well-prepared to welcome back our patrons for a great time at Jumer’s with our Play It Safe program in place,” said Travis Hankins, general manager of Jumer’s Casino & Hotel.
The "Play It Safe" program consists of the resort's new operating procedures and health guidelines, which are aimed at keeping guests safe by minimizing contact and boosting hygiene practices. That includes cutting the operations of the casino's 850 slot machines to about half, putting plexiglass up at the machines and gaming tables, requiring guests to wear masks, and mandatory temperature checks upon entering the resort.
"We're all excited, it's like opening a brand new property all over again," said Jodi Pestka, senior director of marketing for Jumer's. She, like many of the casino's employees, was furloughed for the time the property was closed.
And while she joked that it was nice to have all of the holidays off, including her first New Years Eve off work in years, Pestka couldn't contain her joy at the prospect of reopening. "We're super excited to come back and see all of our guests and open our doors. We've been waiting for the call. We're all excited - our general manager was doing a little dance in the hallway yesterday," she laughed.
According to Pestka, calls have been coming in all week long, from long-time guests thrilled at the prospect of returning. The hotel is booking up quickly, and she expects it to be a big turnout.
Jumer's is hoping all of these measures will help make up for last year's lost revenue. After closing for five months total (including three last spring and two this winter), the casino only brought in $11.5 million dollars in 2020 - a sharp decline from the $66.3 million made in 2019. The amount of guests also fell to 117,902 from 848,776 the year before.
The reopening also means bringing about half of the resort's 350 employees back to work. Connie Jasper has been with the company for 25 years, and now runs the Players Club. She told News 8 that while it was unfortunate to close shop, it was better to be safe than sorry.
"Been waiting for a while to have it open back up, and so are a lot of the guests," said Jasper. "I think we do very well with the social distancing, the hand sanitizer, taking temperatures. We are being safe and careful. Just happy to be back and hope everything will work out great."
Pestka agreed, stating that the reopening was a chance to not only bring employees back onto the team, but to give guests an experience many have been craving for months after being cooped inside.
"Get away from the TV a little bit, get out, and just play it safe," she said. "This is a safe place to play."