Industry Reports

Illinois Commission Report Finds Video Gambling Legalization Equals Addition of 24 Casinos

The Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability has recently released its annual “Wagering in Illinois” report, according to which the addition of video gambling in the state is identical to having more than 24 casino venues.

The report tracks the state’s gambling revenue accumulated over the last fiscal year from July 1st, 2017 to June 30th, 2018. Over the aforementioned period, the gambling tax revenue sharing rose by 3.5% from the previous year, reaching US$1.36 billion in 2018. The result was reached despite a US$6-million decline registered in lottery revenue sharing, which has been so far the largest generator of gambling revenue for Illinois. According to data included in the report, lottery sales brought a total of US$732 million to the state of Illinois in 2018.

Revenue generated from video gambling terminals (VGTs) continued to grow, and so did their number. Back in 2017, an overall amount of US$301 million was generated from 26,873 VGTs, which makes about US$11,200 per machine. In comparison, in the past fiscal year, Illinois coffers received US$352 million from 29,283 terminals, which accounts for over US$12,000 per machine, with the Chicago-based VGTs excluded from that number.

As mentioned above, the annual report revealed that the video gambling machines in Illinois equated to 24 casinos, as casinos in the state have a limit of 1,200 “gaming positions” per facility. The overall amount generated by the ten casinos for the state in 2018 is estimated to US$272 million, which accounts for an average of US$27.2 million per a casino venue.

Revenue generated from horse racing operations remained somehow inert at about US$6 million in the year ended on June 30th, 2018, with most of that amount being derived from Arlington Heights-based Arlington International Racecourse. Other gambling operations, such as bingo, raffles and some charitable games generated tax revenue of US$4.7 million in the past fiscal year.

Illinois Casino Revenue Decline Due to Video Gambling

The legalization of video gambling in the state has resulted in casino revenue losses over the years. In spite of this trend, an attempt to add a new casino in Chicago and up to five more casino venues across the state is being made. There have also been some discussions related to a possible increase of the gaming positions in state-wide casinos.

The executive director of the Illinois Casino Gaming Association, Tom Swoik, has revealed that the body does not find it necessary for more brick-and-mortar casinos to be added to the state’s gambling landscape. Mr. Swoik further noted that state legislators believe that the legalization of sports betting in Illinois will be more helpful for the state and shared that sports betting would account for tax revenue from US$50 to US$100 million a year.

Illinois casinos are calling for state’s legislature to greenlight sports betting within casino venues or online through their betting platforms. Apart from retail and online sports betting, state officials are also considering possible legalization of daily fantasy sports (DFS).