Video gaming in Illinois has created and supports more than 32,000 jobs across the state, according to a study commissioned by the state’s Gaming Machine Operators Association.
More than $350 million in state and local taxes has been generated since the first terminals went online in 2012, the study found.
That does not mean the state’s existing major casinos look at gaming as a wonderful idea. Spokesmen for casino companies have repeatedly conceded the rise of video gaming in bars, restaurants, etc., has impacted their earnings, a fact few people seem to have anticipated when the games were first installed a few at a time.
The situation is somewhat like the ongoing battle in Nevada between similar elements of the slot machine business where major operators have annually maintained that companies operating the biggest hotels and casinos and creating the most jobs should have the right to more gambling.
One of the obstacles to further growth of the video terminals in Illinois is the fact Chicago and other communities refuse to allow video gaming within their city limits.
The GMOA study contends that under current restrictions, video gaming revenue is expected to grow to $300 million a year without major expansion, but if the “hundreds of Illinois communities” that currently prohibit video gaming were to authorize its expansion the annual take from tax revenue would surge to about $480 million and to perhaps $700 million a year were the city of Chicago to open the door to video gaming.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is, of course, holding out for a major destination kind of casino.
The Illinois Restaurant Association says through its president, “Video gaming is not always the answer but it does matter for many of them.”
Phil Hevener has been writing about the Nevada gaming business for more than 30 years. He can be reached at [email protected].