Video gambling continues to set new highs 5 years after terminals were legalized in Illinois, with Springfield leading the state in terminal numbers and revenue.
The state collected $300.5 million in tax revenues from 26,873 machines for the 12-month period ending June 30 as terminal numbers have grown each year since gambling began with 61 machines statewide in September 2012, according to an annual wagering report from the Illinois Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability. The figure topped 27,000 by the end of July and was projected to hit 28,000 by mid-2018.
“The number of new terminals has slowed. It just doesn’t seem that we’ve reached our peak,” commission senior revenue analyst Eric Noggle said Monday.
The state averaged 249 new terminals a month in the latest fiscal year, compared with 263 per month in the previous year and an average of 838 a month in the first 2 years of legalized gaming. Noggle said growth has been spread across the state. Video gambling remains banned in Cook County and Chicago.
State revenue from video gaming totaled $255.2 million from 23,891 terminals the prior fiscal year. Local government revenue from gambling terminals increased to $60.1 million from $51 million the year before.
Net terminal income statewide – the equivalent of gambling losses – totaled $1.2 billion. Revenue from all forms of gambling totaled $1.3 billion, up 7.9 percent from the previous fiscal year. Increased video gaming revenue off set declines in lottery and riverboat casino receipts.
Springfield remained the city with the most video gaming terminals in Illinois. The city’s machines collected a little more than $30.1 million in net terminal income from 635 terminals in the year ended June 30. That’s up from $29.2 million in net terminal income from 622 terminals during the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2016.
Second-place Rockford collected $29.8 million from 451 terminals during the just-ended fiscal year.
“We continue to add terminals around the city,” city budget director Bill McCarty, who added the city collects approximately $130,000 monthly from video gaming, not including fees, licenses and registrations. Revenue from video gaming in Springfield goes into an earmarked fund for street, sidewalk, bridge and other infrastructure improvements.
Executive Director Antia Bedell of Illinois Church Action on Alcohol and Addiction Problems said some communities have begun to reconsider the financial and social costs of unlimited video gaming. The Champaign City Council in June voted to extend a moratorium on new terminals to Jan. 23. It was the second extension for the initial moratorium approved in February. The community of Washington approved a 2-month moratorium in August, and the Aurora City Council is scheduled to vote on a six-month pause Tuesday.
Bedell said she was not surprised by the latest report, as the state has allowed video gambling to spread well beyond taverns and restaurants envisioned in the original law.
“Once you legalize it, a lot of other businesses are going to want it. You have flower shops, you have all kinds of businesses with video gambling,” said Bedell.
Bedell said opponents expect another push for expanded gambling when state lawmakers return for the fall veto session in October and November. There were discussions of a downtown Springfield casino during the spring legislative session, though an amendment to add the city was rejected.
Number of terminals and net terminal income (the equivalent of gambling losses) for fiscal year ended June 30.
* Springfield 635; $30.146 million.
* Rockford: 451; $29.810 million.
* Decatur: 402; $24.453 million.
* Joliet: 308; $14.075 million.
* Lake County: 278; $12.573 million.
Source: Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability
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