Illinois Casino Industry Has Rough Year

The 2020 fiscal year saw a major decrease in gross gaming revenue for the Illinois casino industry. Taxes on all gaming during the 2020 fiscal year were reported at $1.2 billion, which is a 30 percent decrease from 2019.

The revenue brought in from casinos is delivered to the Illinois Education Assistance Fund, and the figure was much less than expected. $195 million was deposited into that fund from the taxes brought in, and that was almost $74 million less than the previous year.

Casinos were hit the hardest during the 2020 fiscal year, and much of that damage stemmed from the coronavirus pandemic. Gross gaming revenue at casinos went down from $1.347 billion in 2019 to just $943 million in 2020.

Since the 2020 fiscal year ended on June 30, 2021 is not off to a very strong start either. The casino industry is still dealing with the effects of the pandemic and capacity at each property is significantly less.

All 10 commercial casinos in the state, as well as video gaming terminals, were shut down for more than three full months. These sites and machines were able to reopen on July 1st, but many properties that house video gaming terminals remain shut down or permanently closed. Those closures are going to have a massive effect on the 2021 numbers.

The state relies on these video gaming terminals (VGTs) to supplement money lost from casinos, and the numbers during 2020 were not as bad as what could have been. Illinois increased the tax rate on these machines, which means the state only saw a decrease of 15.6 percent.

Illinois lawmakers did approve an expanding gaming law in 2019, and that should bring a huge boost to the industry at some point in the near future. A brand new casino has been approved for downtown Chicago, and five other new casino projects in the surrounding suburbs are in the works.

Sports Betting Industry Picking Back Up

Even though the casino industry in Illinois is not expected to recover for quite some time, the state has seen a bounce back in the sports betting industry. Total sports betting handle in August was $139.8 million, which was up from just $52.5 million in July.

The state of Illinois has taken a long time to report on the August sports betting intake, and it’s unclear when those numbers will be released. September should bring an even bigger increase, as the start of the 2020 NFL season always brings a huge boost in both handle and revenue.

It was BetRivers that dominated the market in August, but that likely won’t be the case in September. BetRivers was the first mobile sports betting option in the state, but it has since been joined by four other operators.

Rush Street Gaming is the parent company of BetRivers, and the mobile app was launched in mid-June. Rush Street wasted little time in rolling out its product after Governor JB Pritzker removed the in-person registration requirement.

After letting that executive order run out at the end of July, Pritzker once again allowed in-person registration on August 21. DraftKings was already offering retail sports betting in the state, but it had little time to get the mobile application up and running.

FanDuel was able to roll out its mobile app on August 28th, but was unable to make up much ground that month. With both DraftKings and FanDuel live for the entire month of September, it is likely that they will overtake BetRivers.

PointsBet and William Hill are also live in Illinois, and these are two more huge names in the sports betting industry.


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