Illinois Casino Revenue Dips Slightly In September To $106.3 Million

Casino gaming revenue in Illinois declined in September for a second straight month, but at a far lower rate as the state’s gaming board reported operator revenue totaling nearly $106.3 million across the 10 venues.

The figure represented a 1.5% decline from the $107.9 million in August, which had been a 9.2% drop versus the 2021 high-water mark of $120.2 million in July. Attendance again slipped month over month, with the 715,115 admissions a 0.7% decline compared to August.

The state did receive close to $27.2 million in tax revenue, which was a 6.4% increase from August’s haul of nearly $25.6 million. Illinois’ 10 gaming venues have generated just shy of $161.9 million in taxes via casino revenue for the year, which does not include sports wagering. Sportsbooks in the Land of Lincoln have generated $47.9 million in tax receipts through the first eight months of 2021.

Rivers, Hollywood Joliet lone venues to post rev rise

The state’s flagship casino — Rivers in Des Plaines — and Hollywood Casino in Joliet were the only two venues to post month-over-month gains in revenue. Rivers generated close to $42.9 million, a 3.5% increase versus August’s total of $41.4 million, while Hollywood climbed 5.1% to $7.6 million. The two casinos saw the bulk of their increases come from different forms of play: Rivers had a 6.8% increase in table games revenue to more than $16.6 million, generating $75.33 per admission, while Hollywood’s electronic gaming devices (EGD) revenue shot up 8.7% to $6.8 million as the property posted revenue of $105.07 per admission for that method of gaming.

Despite a 5.9% decline in revenue to $12.2 million, Harrah’s in Joliet posted the highest revenue per admission at $200.46. Still, attendance lagged 13.2% compared to August. Rivers ($194.01) and Grand Victoria ($171.67) in Elgin rounded out the top three, while Hollywood Casino in Aurora’s revenue per admission tumbled 15.7% to $107.74 as the $8.6 million in revenue was a 5.7% drop despite an 11.8% increase in admissions to nearly 80,000.

Seven of the 10 casinos reported at least $100 in revenue per admission, with DraftKings at Casino Queen ($96.54) in East St. Louis, Bally’s Quad Cities ($92.26), and Argosy Casino Alton ($80.96) failing to reach the century mark. Bally’s and the Argosy were also the lone venues to derive at least 90% of their total revenue via EGD, with Harrah’s in Joliet pacing that category at $157.73 per admission.

Rivers remains the bellcow for casino revenue in Illinois, generating 40.3% of the overall total for September. It continues to outperform the other nine venues combined for table games revenue, with the $16.6 million in September accounting for 59.6% of the $27.9 million overall generated. For the year, the Rush Street and Churchill Downs Incorporated-run casino has generated nearly $331.2 million in revenue and close to $79.3 million in state taxes, which accounts for close to half of the $161.9 million overall.

VGT revenue drops but still easily outpaces casinos

Video game terminals (VGTs) continue to be a consistent source of revenue to operators and the state for tax receipts, though there was a slight dip in those figures from August. Despite an increase of 366 machines that brought the active amount to a yearly high of 41,050 across Illinois at 7,746 locations, the amount played in September dropped 2.6% to nearly $2.55 billion.

The Net Terminal Income (NTI) drop nearly mirrored that percentage, though slightly worse at 2.7% as it totaled more than $211.3 million. The VGTs still generated nearly $71.9 million in tax revenue for the month, with the state’s share just shy of $61.3 million. For the year, the Illinois Gaming Board has reported $1.83 billion in NTI, more than double the $876.7 million compared to the same period in 2020.

Despite the slight month-over-month dip, the year-over-year figures are substantially better, though there are also an additional 4,222 VGTs in operation compared to September 2020. The amount played increased by 27.8% from last year, while NTI improved 28.7% from the $164.2 million generated.

Through the first nine months of the year, the state is currently amassing VGT tax revenue at more than double the rate of 2020, though it is not a true like-for-like comparison given the VGTs were inactive from May through June at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Illinois state coffers are receiving more than $59 million per month from VGT play, and the $531.8 million collected to date is well beyond the $325.2 million for all of 2020.

In 2019, NTI through the first nine months was close to $1.25 billion and tax revenue totaled close to $324 million, but there were also 8,037 fewer machines active when September’s report was released that year.