Illinois Mulls Casino Expansion As Revenues Continue Decline

Illinois Mulls Casino Expansion As Revenues Continue DeclineThe Midwestern state of Illinois received some bad news recently after data revealed that for the first six months of the fiscal year its casino industry was down by $10 million compared to the same period a year ago.
While The Prairie State’s ten casinos have been trading lower, revenues derived from video gaming had actually reached $48 million and were continuing to grow at a pace of around half a million dollars a month. Commenting on the latest finding, executive director Tom Swoik from the Legislature’s Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability (COGFA), said:
“The revenues were kind of leveling out when video gaming stared up..Revenues for casinos are going down and revenues for video are going up. We’re not creating any new gamblers. If this continues, there’s only so much gaming money going around. This only redistributes it.”
In addition to a proliferation of video gaming in Illinois, casino revenues were also further impacted by the ongoing recession, as well as the state’s indoor smoking ban.
The worrying results come at a time when a state lawmaker is pushing hard to expand Illinois gambling, but whereas Rep. Robert Rita believes approving additional casinos would generate more revenue, others believe the move is more likely to further cannibalize the state’s gambling industry. Debating the issue, a forum was held on Tuesday evening at the Casino Queen’s ballroom, and highlighting the partisan nature of the forum, those in attendance associated with the horse-racing industry were inclined to embrace allowing up to 900 slot machines at their tracks, whereas casino businesses, such as Casino Queen, were keen to stave off further competition from neighboring horse tracks. As Casino Queen’s president, Jeff Watson, told Rep. Robert Rita at the forum:
“I want to be very clear: We are not in favor of any expansion that is going to dramatically affect our business.”
Trying to reassure the competing gambling businesses, Rep. Robert Rita says he intends to “pass a bill that benefits everyone,” and that he will hold at least two more hearings before scheduling a vote on the measure in spring.

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