Drop a pin anywhere in La Salle County and you probably won’t be too far from a video slot machine.
The county remains a hotbed of machines compared to the rest of the state, according to the Wagering in Illinois 2018 update by the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability.
The recently released report shows video gaming as the only facet of wagering that showed any real growth in Illinois during the last fiscal year (July 2017-June 2018), and our area has definitely been a key contributor to that upward trend.
1. So, so many machines
There are only seven of 102 counties in Illinois with more than 1,000 active video gaming machines in Illinois. La Salle County is one of them.
La Salle County now ranks second in the number of video gaming machines per capita in the state, behind only the sparsely populated Washington County in southern Illinois. That is up from the fourth place ranking the county held in 2016, according to a NewsTribune report at the time. The recently released report also shows La Salle County earns the fourth most in the state per capita behind Effingham, Macon and Washington counties.
Bureau also ranks high in machines per capita at 13th place, but as far as per capita revenue, the county sits more middle of the pack at No. 39. Putnam is 34th in machines per capita and 71st in earnings per capita.
Ottawa and Streator both have some of the highest numbers of gaming machines within city limits in the state, ranking 19th and 22nd respectively. In terms of population, Ottawa is just shy of the top 130 municipalities in Illinois, according to the 2010 Census. Streator is even further down the list.
2. Big year for gaming, thanks to video slots
The state earned $1.356 billion in revenue in the last fiscal year, up from $1.310 billion in 2017. The 2018 total is the second best year the state has ever recorded behind $1.347 billion in 2006. But the emergence of video gaming has helped bridge losses in horse racing and riverboat casino revenues.
Locally, La Salle, Bureau and Putnam counties saw about $40.4 million played, which would contribute $10.1 million to the state or just under 3 percent of its total earnings on video gaming.
3. A bounce back year for casinos
For the first time in several years, Illinois’ riverboat casinos saw an increase in their earnings compared to the previous year. The state earned $272 million in 2018 compared to the previous year’s 2017.
While casinos don’t have a direct impact on the Illinois Valley, the state’s revenue is mostly contributed to the education assistance fund, which benefits schools across the state. Because of the recent surge in video gaming, casino revenues had been down the past five years, which means less revenue was going to schools and more was going to video gaming. The state’s video gaming revenue goes toward the capital projects fund, which pays for projects around the state or for debt services.
Compared to the other states in the Midwest with public casinos, Illinois ranks last compared to Indiana, Iowa and Missouri.
4. Lottery still king, but revenues are down a little
Illinois earned an estimated $732 million from lottery transfers in fiscal year 2018, which is down $6 million from the previous year.
Illinois residents like playing the instant games (scratch-off tickets) more than anything else. Those tickets made up 64 percent of sales in Illinois, as draw games (Mega Millions, Lucky Day Lotto, Powerball, etc.) have been on a sharp decline since the mid-1980s.
Like casino earnings, a good chunk of lottery revenue is diverted toward schools. Illinois deposited $718.8 million in the common school fund in 2018, which is the second highest total ever after last year’s $720.3 million.
5. Horse racing lows
Illinois’ oldest form of legalized betting did see a slight increase in revenue in 2017, but racing handles remain at their lowest numbers of all time. Illinois collected about $6 million from horse racing in fiscal year 2018 compared to its heyday in 1979 where it saw $79 million.
Horseracing earned a $587 million handle — the total amount wagered on horses — in the calendar year 2017, a 2.9 percent increase from 2016, despite racetracks running significantly fewer races. New laws enacted over the past two decades have changed how Illinois collects money from the overall handle, which has led to further decreased revenues. Only three racecourses remain open in Illinois, and Illinois Valley residents looking to bet have to drive about an hour to find the nearest Off-Track Betting.
This article can be found at: http://www.newstrib.com/free/takeaways-from-the-state-s-wagering-update/article_2e7b3654-ddd6-11e8-9561-17f2f5023736.html