A bump in admissions helped create a corresponding rise in casino revenue in Illinois, with the state’s Gaming Board reporting $109.1 million in revenue at its 10 venues in October.
The figure represents a 2.7% increase from September’s total of $106.2 million as the state avoided a third straight month of declines. October’s total, however, is still well off the year’s high of $120.1 million established in July. The state received $29.1 million in tax receipts for October, with local municipalities claiming an additional $6.2 million.
A total of 739,819 patrons made their way to Illinois casinos in October, up from 715,115 the previous month. The $147.51 in revenue generated per admission was down $1.09 compared to September and well off the $156.84 per patron overall through the first 10 months of the year.
Overall in 2021, Illinois casinos have generated $864.4 million in total revenue outside of sports betting, with retail sportsbooks producing a combined $16.4 million through the first nine months of the year at the seven venues allowed to accept wagers.
Casino gaming has generated nearly $161.9 million in tax receipts for the year, with Rivers Casino in Des Plaines accounting for nearly half that amount at $79.3 million.
Harrah’s, Bally’s lead way in gains by percentage
Seven of the 10 casinos saw month-over-month increases in revenue, with Harrah’s Metropolis (14.3%), Bally’s Quad Cities (13.3%), and Par-A-Dice (11.6%) in East Peoria the largest movers. Harrah’s saw a 17.8% increase in revenue from electronic gambling devices, while Bally’s had a 32.1% jump in table-game revenue. Par-A-Dice also saw a notable rise in table games revenue compared to September, improving 38.4% as it collected more than $1.1 million.
Argosy’s 10.2% month-over-month decline was the steepest of the three venues that reported less income than September, with EGD revenue accounting for a substantial portion of the $300,463 dip. Harrah’s in Joliet (-1.7%) and Grand Victoria in Elgin (-0.8%) posted smaller losses, with Harrah’s barely missing the $12 million mark for a fifth consecutive month.
The small decline for Harrah’s was also enough for Rivers to reclaim the top spot in revenue per admission at $187.96 per patron. The Joliet location slipped to $185.47 in October after being the only venue to clear $200 per patron in September. Seven of the 10 casinos posted revenue of at least $100 per admission, with Grand Victoria ($161.71) the only other location to surpass $150.
Rivers accounted for 40.3% of the state’s total casino revenue for September with just over $44 million. The $17.4 million sourced from table games accounted for 61.3% of the total in that category, and its $74.49 in revenue per admission nearly doubled the state average of $38.46. On the EGD side, Harrah’s Joliet location paced all venues with $155.47 per admission, and GVC was a distant second at $130.20.
VGTs also post modest October gains
Illinois is home to the most expansive distribution of video game terminals (VGTs) in the country, and the 41,157 units statewide outside Chicago — where they are barred by local ordinance — generated more than $219 million in net terminal income in October. That was an increase of 3.7% from September’s total of $211.3 million, and there were 108 more VGTs in operation compared to September.
The $2.63 billion played across 7,754 establishments was a 3.1% uptick from September’s total of $2.55 billion. Through the first nine months of the year, the number of VGTs has increased 10.8% from the 37,145 listed in January’s report.
The state received more than $63.5 million of the $74.5 million in tax revenue generated in October, with municipalities sharing the balance. State coffers have received close to $531.8 million in tax receipts via VGT play through the first 10 months of the year, exceeding the $444.4 million in all of 2019.
This year’s numbers also easily outpace 2020 figures considering establishments were closed for four-plus months due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Based on current monthly averages for state tax receipts, Illinois will finish the calendar year with nearly double the $325.2 million generated in 2020.
Rivers set to add up to 400 positions in expansion
Rivers, which is on track to complete an $87 million expansion that will open next year, recently announced it is hiring for up to 400 positions and is holding a job fair Thursday at the nearby Hyatt Rosemont. Approximately 250 of the positions will involve table games, with Rivers stating that the typical starting salary will be $55,000 per year. It was also recently ranked No. 6 by the Chicago Tribune for top large workplaces in 2021.
“Rivers is expanding and we’re excited that we have hundreds of opportunities to connect individuals to a rewarding career in the gaming industry at one of the top casinos in all of North America,” Corey Wise, senior vice president and general manager of Rivers Casino, said in a press release. “Being named a Top Workplace is a tremendous honor that affirms our holistic approach to supporting team members.”
The completed 78,000-square-foot expansion will make Rivers the first venue to reach the maximum 2,000 gaming positions allowed in the expansion bill Gov. JB Pritzker signed into law in June 2019 that also legalized sports wagering in Illinois.
Photo: Nejdet Duzen via Shutterstock