September marks the four-year anniversary of video gaming in Illinois, which continues to expand despite concerns by some that it needs to be better controlled.
The Illinois Gaming Board reports that video machines produced nearly $785 million in state and local tax revenues since the first machines were turned on in September 2012, growing from 13 establishments and about 60 machines to more than 24,000 machines today in more than 5,600 locations.
In the city of Rockford alone, 94 establishments operate 445 gaming machines which have generated nearly $250 million in play since January.
The biggest single location for video poker is Don Carter Lanes, which is seeing nearly $1 million wagered each month with net proceeds of about $80,000 per month. To see details for Rockford or any other locality, click here.
Rockford alone has generated nearly $5 million state tax revenue and nearly $1 million in local tax revenue since January, an increase of about 10% over the same period in 2015.
Proponents of video gaming say that gaming brings in more than $22 million a month in taxes to support capital infrastructure projects, with more than $4 million a month supporting local government budgets. Rockford uses its money to support its fleet of city vehicles.
It also produces a more steady stream of income and more foot traffic for businesses which have them, not to mention considerable profits for the companies which operate them, which get to retain 30% of the revenue.
But some Rockford city leaders and those in other municipalities are doing more to control the proliferation of the machines, concerned they have the potential to deprive surrounding businesses of revenue lost to gaming. There are also the impacts of gambling on any community, which can lead to gambling addictions and also negatively impact people financially who can afford it the least.
The Illinois Gaming Machine Operators Association, which represents video gaming terminal operators who provide the machines, say they believe the growth figures show the video gaming experiment has been a success.
“Our goal from the beginning with video gaming has been to make an economic difference for our partners who draw players to their establishments, for their employees and patrons, and for our state and local governments who need tax revenue to support their services and programs,” said Michael Gelatka, IGMOA president and a terminal operator from Chicago’s south suburbs in a news release. “These numbers confirm video gaming is making that difference.”