As a vote nears on whether the Chicago City Council will present Bally’s to the Illinois Gaming Board as its applicant for a downtown casino license, the state’s venues already in play posted revenue gains for a third consecutive month in April, ending up at $122.4 million.
The revenue figure is a 15.9% improvement on March’s total of $105.7 million. Casino gaming got off to a slow start in Illinois in 2022, with just $181.3 million generated in January and February combined across the state’s 11 venues. The state received $21 million in tax receipts from casino gaming in April and has collected more than $60 million through the first four months of the year.
Those numbers are independent of sports wagering in Illinois, which generated $162.4 million in operator revenue in the first quarter of 2022.
The City Council vote regarding Bally’s $1.7 billion proposal for the River West neighborhood could come as early as next week, with the Special Committee on the Chicago Casino scheduled to meet Friday. Mayor Lori Lightfoot tabbed Bally’s as the city’s preferred operator on May 5, selecting it over bids from Rush Street Gaming and Hard Rock.
It will be just the third meeting for the special committee since being formed earlier this year, and some aldermen have already called to slow down the process that accelerated with Lightfoot’s selection of Bally’s. The city originally started the process in August 2020, received five proposals last October, and narrowed the field to three in March.
The full Chicago City Council is currently scheduled to meet Monday and Wednesday, raising the possibility the casino proposal will be on Monday’s agenda but taken up in Wednesday’s session. It is likely there will be two aldermen among the 50 who vote to “defer and publish” Monday to allow for more time to review the proposal further before bringing it to a vote.
Rivers claims even bigger share of table revenue
The IGB reported more than 806,000 total admissions to casinos in April, a 2.3% increase from March. Hard Rock’s temporary venue in Rockford, which does not have table games, reported the biggest increase with a 9.4% jump to nearly 40,000 people as it generated $5.1 million in revenue exclusively from EGD play at $130.04 per admission.
While Rush Street Gaming was beaten out for the downtown casino license, it can take solace knowing it will be the bellcow in Illinois until that new venue opens its doors. Aided by the opening of a poker room that was part of an $87 million expansion, Rivers generated close to $17.5 million in table games revenue for April, accounting for nearly 60% of the state’s overall $29.6 million.
Rivers, located in Des Plaines on the outskirts of Chicago near O’Hare International Airport, had an 8.6% uptick in table revenue compared to March. Grand Victoria Casino in Elgin was the only other venue to account for at least 10% of table games revenue, generating more than $3.2 million. No other casino reached $2 million in revenue, with Hollywood Aurora coming closest at $1.9 million.
Rivers averaged $71.25 in revenue per admission at its table games, nearly double the state average of $36.62.
Most operators see rise in slots revenue
Nine of the state’s 11 casinos saw a rise in EGD revenue from March to April, though the No. 2 location — Grand Victoria — dropped 2.6% to close to $10.8 million. It was, though, still enough to hold off Harrah’s Joliet ($10.6 million) for runner-up to Rivers, which generated nearly $28.8 million in revenue from its slots.
Harrah’s Joliet did claim honors for most EGD revenue per admission at $156.51, with Grand Victoria ($133.81) and Hard Rock ($130.04) the only other locales to surpass $125 per head. The state average for slots revenue per admission was $115.17.
The overall state average for revenue per admission was $152.38, slightly higher than the $151.12 recorded in March but well off the April 2021 average of $166.54. Rivers, whose $10.6 million tax bill accounted for more than half the state’s receipts, led the pack in this category at $188.60, followed by Harrah’s Joliet ($181.71) and Grand Victoria ($173.91) for the other podium spots.
VGT revenue declines slightly but still healthy
Despite a month-over-month decline of 2.3%, revenue from video gaming terminal (VGT) play still easily outpaced casino revenue at $243.8 million for April. The amount played decreased by 2.9% to nearly $2.9 billion statewide across 7,914 establishments and 42,571 terminals.
Funds in fell 2.5% to $949.4 million compared to March’s $973.4 million, while funds out totaled $705.6 million, also 2.5% lower versus the previous month.
Net terminal income tax totaled $82.9 million for April, with the state’s share at $70.7 million and local municipalities claiming the remaining $12.2 million. There are 8.5% more terminals in play compared to April 2021, which has contributed to a 19.1% increase in money played at $10.6 billion thus far.
Funds in has also increased sharply to nearly $3.5 billion on the year, a 21.7% rise compared to the first four months of 2021. VGT play has generated $302.9 million in overall taxes this year, with the state receiving $258.4 million — nearly $44 million more than the comparable period in 2021.