Despite a slight drop in attendance, the Illinois Gaming Board reported its 10 casinos generated nearly $107.8 million in gaming revenue for the month of April.
It was an increase of nearly 2% from March’s figure of close to $105.7 million. The state collected just over $17 million in taxes for April, while the local tax receipts amounted to slightly more than $6 million. This year’s April revenue figure, however, is 6.1% lower compared to April 2019, when the venues amassed nearly $114.8 million.
Those numbers do not include retail sports betting, which were not available for April. The IGB breaks out sports betting revenue reports separately, and they also have a longer lag in reporting due to state rules regarding accounting methods. The seven casinos that offer sports wagering generated nearly $5 million in revenue in the first three months of the year, resulting in $740,956 in tax receipts for the state.
There is no point of comparison for casino revenue to April 2020 since gaming locations across the state were shuttered from mid-March through June due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While the nearly $317.7 million in revenue through the first four months of the year is 26.8% higher than 2020, it is also 26.7% lower compared to 2019, when the venues generated more than $433.2 million.
Mixed results as Rivers and Grand Victoria shine
While overall attendance dropped 0.6% month-over-month to 647,049 patrons, five of the casinos reported revenue increases from March. Rivers Casino in Des Plaines, the top venue in Illinois with nearly 190,000 patrons, had a 6.6% upswing in revenue to nearly $40.8 million. It led the state’s venues in both adjusted gross revenue per square foot ($933.59) and adjusted gross revenue per person ($215.35).
Rivers was the only casino to top $200 in AGR per person, but Grand Victoria Casino came close at $198.25. The Elgin location saw an uptick of 7.3% in revenue from March to more than $13.5 million. The other casino to clear $10 million in revenue for April — Harrah’s in Joliet at nearly $12.6 million — tailed off 8.6% from March as it swapped spots with Grand Victoria in the monthly pecking order.
Overall, the state’s casinos showed slight month-over-month increases in AGR per square foot ($301.93) and per person ($166.54) compared to March. Jumer’s Casino in Rock Island ($98.72) and Argosy Casino Alton ($91.74) were the only locations to not reach AGR of at least $100 per person.
VGT Revenue dips despite slight increase in number of machines
Though the state reached a high-water mark with 39,245 video game terminals (VGTs) in operation in April, the net terminal income created across the over 7,500 venues where they are available dipped to nearly $240.7 million. That was a decline of 2.4% from March’s total of $246.6 million despite having 319 fewer VGTs in play.
With the increase in bar and restaurant capacity as COVID mitigation measures ease, the last two months have accounted for 65.9% of the $739.6 million in net terminal income for 2021. In April, the machines generated more than $81.8 million in taxes, of which nearly $69.8 million went to the state. Illinois has received nearly $214.5 million in taxes from VGTs in 2021, more than double than the pandemic-affected total of $107 million to this point last year.
This year’s net terminal income was 33.7% higher than April 2019, but that is not a direct like-for-like comparison since there were only 31,608 VGTs in operation that generated the $553 million in revenue. Gov. JB Pritzker’s gaming expansion bill that legalized sports wagering in June of 2019 allowed most venues to add up to six VGTs while also allowing truck stops to increase the number of machines available for betting.