Illinois Casino Revenues Drop for 7th Straight Year
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Illinois Casino Revenues Drop for 7th Straight Year

Illinois Casino Revenues Drop for 7th Straight Year

Illinois has recorded yet another annual drop in casino revenue, making 2019 the industry’s seventh year of decline.

A report from the state Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability revealed the disappointing numbers at a time when Illinois is preparing to give away more casino licenses.

The huge state gambling expansion signed into play by Governor Pritzker last year faced criticism after plans were revealed to build up to six more casinos in the state, on top of the ten Illinois already has.

According to the Commission’s figures, $1.35 billion was brought in last year, a decline of 1.5% from 2018 and a drop of 17.3% compared to revenue figures in 2012, the last year Illinois revenue increased.

2012 was also the year video gambling launched across bars in the state and was the first full year of operation for Rivers Casino in Des Plaines- the only casino that has continued to see annual revenue growth. 

The report names ‘increased competition resulting from the growth of video gaming’ as a major factor contributing to the continued revenue loss.

If the state was to legalize online casinos inside of the American Jurisdiction, revenue could drop even further in the future.

For now, however, Illinois residents over the age of 21 can only gamble on regulated sites outside of the federal jurisdiction since no federal gambling laws prohibit Illinois residents from enjoying licensed online gambling websites.

State and local governments are also suffering as a consequence of the decline, with $455.2 million taken off the top of the casino’s take in tax revenue, another 1.5% drop compared to 2018, and a decline of almost 21% from taxed revenue in 2012.

Despite the figures, gamblers are still playing and losing more than ever - the report found the number of video gambling machines and the number of players using them at an all-time high. The 33,000 slots machines added to 7200 venues last year generated $1.7 billion in revenue as well as $503 million in taxes.

Casinos are also still seen as one of the best day trip destinations from Chicago.

Pritzker’s office has said the steady increase in video gaming machines will work well to support the Democrat’s $45 billion capital plan, which will be funded in part by the casino expansion.

In addition to handing out six casino licenses, the law also raises the number of video terminals allowed in bars and restaurants from five to six.

Spokeswoman for the Governor Jordan Abudayyeh said: “The bipartisan gaming expansion will create jobs and spur economic development around the state while generating revenue to rebuild our universities, community colleges, state facilities, and hospitals.

“The administration understood the unpredictable nature of gaming revenue and took that into consideration when putting together the revenue projections for Rebuild Illinois.”

Spokeswoman for Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, Lauren Huffman, has said a Chicago casino is still very much in the cards for Illinois.

She said: “Regardless of the recent trends, a viable Chicago casino will pave the way to new dedicated revenues that we previously didn’t have allowing us to direct much-needed resources toward the city’s underfunded police and fire pensions and the state’s vertical capital plan.

“The casino will not only generate new economic activity for the city but will generate gambling revenue from Indiana back to Illinois. We remain committed to working with the governor and the General Assembly to move forward on a workable tax structure that will finally make a Chicago casino a reality after 30 years and unlock significant annual revenues and economic opportunity for our city and state.

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