- Despite declining monthly activation rates, revenue continues to rise in Illinois
- At almost 27,000 machines, the state made $300.5 million this fiscal year
Five years ago, Illinois’ lawmakers made the distribution and use of video gaming terminals legal in the state. And now, reports suggest that the industry is positively thriving.
The Illinois Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability has recently collected, analyzed and released data suggesting that in 12 months, the state – across its almost 27,000 gaming machines – generated $300.5 million in tax revenue.
Springfield is the state hotspot
The total state revenue gained from Illinois’ then 23,891 gaming terminals in 2016 – the previous economic year – was $255.2 million.
And between 2015 and 2016, local government takings from the video game terminals rose by just over $9 million – up to $60.1 million from $51 million.
Springfield, IL, has the most video gaming terminals in the state. Housing 635 of them, the city brought in just over $30 million for the economic ear ending June 30, 2017, marking an increase of just under $1 million from the previous year.
Second to Springfield is the city of Rockford, IL, which utilized its 450+ gaming machines to rake in $29.8 million for the previous 12 months. This form of gambling is still banned in the state’s capital, Chicago, and in Cook County.
It is worth noting out that, as per the Illinois Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability, when video gambling terminals were first legalized in Illinois at the end of 2012, there were just 61 of them.
But between then and the middle of 2014, around 838 new machines were installed and activated each month across the state.
That being said, by the following year, the monthly activation rate had declined to just 272, while in 2016, it further dropped to 263. This year, only 249 were activated per month.
Despite the dropping monthly rates, the Illinois Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability predicts that the overall number of gaming terminals in Illinois will rise to 28,000 by the end of June 2018.
Finally, Illinois’ gambling revenue from all forms equalled $1.3 billion – which marks an almost 8% rise from the 2016 fiscal year. This rise counteracts the losses made by riverboat casinos and lottery style games.
Implications for problem gambling
Antia Bedell, of Illinois Church Action on Alcohol and Addiction Problems, has reportedly expressed concerns about video gambling and its potential to become “unlimited.”
The Champaign City Council has twice frozen the addition of any new gambling machine terminals in the city, which could be halted again following the results of a vote scheduled for Tuesday.
Bedell is reportedly displeased, if not surprised, by the figures released by the Illinois Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability. She said that although the bill that legalized the terminals restricted them to taverns and restaurants, Illinois has allowed them to spread.
She adds that this could have toxic implications for the state and its people, saying that now that it is so widespread, all different kinds of shops and businesses will want to install gaming terminals in their premises.
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