Illinois may be getting close to gambling saturation, according to the administrator for the Illinois Gaming Board.
During testimony last week on the proposed fiscal 2017 budget for the Illinois Gaming Board, Administrator Mark Ostrowski said in addition to the 10 licensed casinos, there are more than 5,320 locations operating 22,620 video gaming terminals.
Ostrowski said all the video gaming terminals combined make Illinois the largest video gaming jurisdiction anywhere.
“We are bigger than the state of Nevada, we are bigger than any other countries in the world,” Ostrowski said.
Meanwhile Ostrowski said with the equivalent of 29 casinos operating in Illinois, the state is closing in on a saturation point.
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“I think you tend to potentially just spread revenue around versus actually increase or generate more revenue,” Ostrowski said.
Recent analysis from the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability showed an overall increase of video gaming revenue from the previous year, with video gaming machines eating into riverboat activity.
Meanwhile, despite a proposed budget that’s nearly $7 million less than the current fiscal year’s proposed budget, the Illinois Gaming Board expects to be fully staffed in the coming fiscal year.
The Illinois Gaming Board is responsible for reviewing casino, riverboat and video gaming licenses, investigating wrongdoing and issuing disciplinary action to gambling outlets.
Ostrowski said the proposed budget for the coming fiscal year is about $154 million, a decrease of nearly $7 million — or 4.3 percent down — from the request levels for fiscal 2015. With 10 casinos that operate around the clock and more than 5,300 video gaming locations, it’s crucial to be fully staffed, he said.
“It is a tall task, to say the least, for us to be able to get to all of these locations and try to provide proper law enforcement oversight,” Ostrowski said.
Ostrowski said the proposed budget allows for full staffing.
The Illinois Gaming Board says the state’s gambling authority was able to transfer $282 million from the State Gaming Fund to the Educational Assistance Fund from taxes and other collections connected with video gambling in 2015.