Illinois Casino Revenue Dips To $107.9M In August As Attendance Lags

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The Illinois Gaming Board reported casino revenues totaling more than $107.9 million in August, a decline of 10.2% from the previous month that could largely be attributed to a drop in attendance.

July’s revenue total of nearly $120.2 million — the high-water mark for 2021 — was powered by nearly 800,000 admissions across the state’s 10 casinos. That total slipped 9.5% to just over 720,000 in August, as the $149.85 in revenue per person was slightly less than the $150.99 generated in July.

Despite the month-to-month decline, Illinois casinos did easily outperform compared to August 2020, when the nation was beginning to recover from the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Revenues were up 23.5% compared to last year, and attendance was 29.6% higher versus 2020. The revenue per admission from 2020, however, was 38.8% higher at $244.86.

The state collected nearly $25.6 million in taxes from August revenue generated, raising the total for the year to $134.7 million from more than $758.1 million in revenue. Those figures easily outpace 2020’s pandemic-affected totals, as Illinois casinos had totaled just $170 million in revenue and nearly $28.8 million in state taxes through the first eight months of last year — which included a span of more than three months when operations were suspended.

Electronic games fuel Harrah’s Joliet’s surge

Though Rivers Casino in Des Plaines remained the state’s top generator of revenue at more than $41.4 million for August, strong electronic action at Harrah’s in Joliet nearly created a shuffling atop the leaderboard in terms of revenue per admission. The Harrah’s location led all casinos with $159.39 of electronic games revenue per admission while finishing third in overall revenue at just shy of $13 million.

Its $184.81 overall per admission was less than $4 behind Rivers, which generated $188.78 per head. The spread between the two in July was $14.55, when Rivers had an average of $196.56 compared to Harrah’s in Joliet’s figure of $182.01.

Rivers’ greatest asset continues to be its ability to generate table games revenue, with its nearly $15.6 million in August outpacing the other nine venues combined. The Des Plaines location generated $70.98 per admission in table games, nearly 17 times the $4.21 per admission at Jumer’s Casino in Rock Island, which occupied the bottom of the list.

Grand Victoria Casino in Elgin ranked second in overall revenue, with more than $13.6 million, and was the only other venue to reach eight figures in revenue. It was also a distant second to Rivers in terms of revenue per square foot at $455.72, with Rivers more than doubling that total at $948.35.

Eight of the 10 casinos generated at least $100 of revenue per admission, with only Argosy Casino in Alton ($85.13) and Jumer’s ($81.88) falling short. Grand Victoria ($133.67) and Harrah’s Metropolis ($120.63) also posted higher revenue per admission on electronic games than Rivers ($117.80).

The August 2021 attendance and revenue numbers were lower compared to August 2019, when 946,530 admissions were counted and nearly $117.9 million in revenue was generated.

VGT revenue takes a hit

The IGB also reported a decline in net terminal income generated from video game terminals (VGTs) in August compared to July, though the $217.1 million generated represented a drop of just 2.9%. There are 40,684 active machines spanning 7,683 locations, an increase of 188 from the previous month, and 3,499 VGTs have been activated over the course of the year from January’s total of 37,185.

The state’s share of taxes from VGT revenue in August totaled just shy of $63 million, as local municipalities claimed close to $10.9 million. Again, the slight month-over-month drop can be tolerated considering the increase in tax receipts from VGTs is more than three-fold compared to 2020. The state has collected more than $470.4 million in tax receipts through the first eight months of the year compared to the $202.8 million in 2020, and local municipalities have garnered $81.1 million — more than double the $35.6 million through this time last year.

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Chris Altruda has been a sportswriter with ESPN, The Associated Press, and STATS over more than two decades. He recently expanded into covering sports betting and gambling around the Midwest.

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