Illinois’ casinos and riverboats may be feeling down on their luck lately, but a new report from the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability (COGFA) finds that the state’s gambling industry as a whole is booming.
Riverboat revenues are down 2.1 percent. Horse racing revenues have also declined. However, overall wagers across all gambling platforms are up 8 percent.
COGFA Senior Analyst Eric Noggle said one of the major reasons for the mixed numbers is the expansion of video gambling.
“In downstate Illinois, that’s where our growth has come,” Noggle said. “Video gambling revenues have allowed us to have an 8 percent overall increase in the State of Illinois.”
That translates to nearly 4 percent increased gambling revenue for the state. Noggle said that while more options in downstate Illinois have helped boost gambling revenues, there are indications that areas around Chicago may be reaching a saturation point, even with the continuedexpansion of video gambling terminals.
While Illinois may not be quite on par with big gambling states, Noggle said the Land of Lincoln is getting close.
When combining Illinois gambling receipts with riverboats and video gambling, Noggle said Illinois scores $2.3 billion annually.
“That would be larger than Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, states like that surrounding us.”
And while Illinois still trails Nevada’s $11 billion in wagers, it’s catching up to other big gambling states “like Pennsylvania with $3.2 billion, New Jersey is at $2.4 billion. So we’re close to New Jersey.”
Noggle said that while Illinois riverboats and horse-racing tracks are seeing less revenue, the expansion of video gambling across the state has increased Illinois' gambling revenue to $1.2 billion, making it roughly 3.8 percent of the total revenue for the state.