Illinois‘ 11 casinos closed 2021 with a flourish as the state’s gaming board reported revenue totaling $109.8 million for the month of December and nearly $1.2 billion for 2021.
The figure represented a 5.6% increase from November’s total of $103.9 million as the venues were helped by an increase of nearly 3% in attendance to 726,780 patrons, 21,110 more than the previous month. With comparisons to 2020 not being like-for-like due to COVID-19 restrictions, the December 2021 revenue total was an 11.7% decline from the $124.3 million generated in December 2019.
The 2021 revenue total was more than triple last year’s pandemic-affected total, as no casino was open for more than 142 days in 2020. This year’s totals ranged from 343 days at Argosy Casino Alton near the Missouri border to 350 at Par-A-Dice in East Peoria and Harrah’s in Metropolis. Still, 2021 revenue was 12.3% lower than the nearly $1.4 billion generated in 2019.
For 2021, the state collected close to $248.7 million in casino gaming taxes, which was nearly $179.5 million more than 2020. The comparisons to 2019 are also not like-for-like due to a reworking of the thresholds for the graduated tax rates in 2020. As a result, the 2021 number is 34% lower than the $377 million the state received from operators in 2019.
The tax revenue totals do not include receipts from sports wagering, which totaled $73.7 million through the first 11 months of the year.
Table action picks up at Rivers
The bell cow for casino revenue in Illinois, Rivers in Des Plaines just outside Chicago city limits, is the overwhelming source of table games revenue in the state, and December was no different. Despite only a 1.1% increase in attendance month over month, table revenue surged 14.9% to just over $18 million as the average revenue per admission went from $72.43 to $82.34.
Rivers accounted for 61.3% of the $29.4 million in statewide table games revenue and more than doubled the state’s table game average per admission of $40.47. The casino also had the highest percentage of revenue derived from table games at 41.9%, well above the state average of 26.8%.
No other venue reached the state average, though Hollywood Casino in Aurora came closest at 24.5% with more than $2.1 million — a 72% spike compared to November. Grand Victoria Casino also reported a significant uptick in table games revenue of 20.5% month over month to nearly $2.9 million.
Slots see uptick in revenue as well
Rivers also paced EGD revenue, totaling just shy of $25 million, and Grand Victoria was the only other venue to reach eight figures as it barely cleared $10 million. Harrah’s in Joliet rounded out the podium spots with nearly $9.3 million, but that venue claimed top honors for EGD revenue per admission with $153.90, beating out Grand Victoria ($131.61) and Harrah’s Metropolis ($128.60).
Some of the novelty of Hard Rock’s temporary casino in Rockford — which offers only slots and EGDs — may have dissipated in December as the venue saw a 5.5% decline in attendance compared to its first month of operations. It did increase revenue 4.2% to $4.3 million, however, as the average revenue per patron climbed from $99.57 to $109.76. Overall, EGD revenue rose 4% from November to $80.4 million.
Putting a bow on 2021 numbers
Three of the 10 venues that were in operation year-round surpassed $100 million in overall revenue, with the $458.2 million generated by Rivers accounting for 38.6% of the state’s overall total. Grand Victoria ($143.3 million) and Harrah’s Joliet ($137.5 million) combined to represent another 23.7% of the state’s action, while Hollywood in Aurora was the only other venue within shouting distance of nine figures with $95.2 million.
Rivers also was tops for average revenue per admission at $197.33, followed by Harrah’s in Joliet ($188.20) and Grand Victoria ($174.16). The overall average was $115.89, and eight venues finished with an average above $100, with only Bally’s Quad Cities ($89.67) and Argosy Casino Alton ($83.11) falling short.
VGT numbers continue to impress
While online casino gaming continues to slowly spread elsewhere in the country, the vast revenue and state taxes being generated in Illinois from video gaming terminals (VGTs) despite their absence in the city of Chicago would appear to make that expansion a tough sell for the state’s lawmakers.
More than $2.6 billion was wagered in VGT play in December, an increase of 5.5% from November, as was the $846.5 million reported in “funds in.” Net Terminal Income (NTI) totaled $216.8 million for the final month of the year, 5.6% higher than November, thus bringing the year’s total to close to $2.5 billion.
The state collected close to $62.9 million in tax receipts for the month, with local municipalities claiming the remaining $10.8 million. Overall, state coffers received $717.7 million in taxes from VGT revenue — more than the $643.7 million that Pennsylvania, Michigan, and New Jersey collected combined from their online casino operators through the first 11 months of the year.
The number of establishments with VGTs in Illinois increased from 7,283 at the start of the year to 7,841, while the number of terminals in operation increased 12.6% to 41,826.