Recent legislation increasing state gaming taxes continues to sink Illinois gaming revenues, according to information provided by the Illinois Gaming Control Board.
Revenues for the first quarter of the state’s fiscal year, which began on July 1, fell by 10.6% when compared to the numbers reported in the comparable period of 2002. During these three months, the state’s nine riverboats reported revenue of $410.9 million, down from the comparable $459.7 million.
It was a case of "We told you so," said a spokesman for the Illinois Casino Gaming Association.
However, even though state tax revenues fell below expectations, they still surpassed the amount collected a year earlier. Tax revenue for the three-month period reached $194.4 million, an increase of 9.3% over last year’s $177.9 million. The state had expected revenues to reach $200 million.
"The first quarter of every fiscal year is always the lowest in generating revenue," said a spokeswoman in Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s office. "We’re trying to keep our perspective of the full 12 months," she added.
Tom Swoik of the Illinois Casino Gaming Association said that the tax increase had forced Illinois’ riverboats to take steps to protect their businesses in light of the added tax burden. He said the casinos were forced to cut the number of hours they operate, and to adopt admission fees and parking charges.
Also causing a drop in admissions, said Swoik, was the state’s increase in the amount patrons must pay in admission taxes. These are as high as $5 in some cases.
Swoik said the increases have caused some casino goers to head to nearby riverboats in Indiana, Missouri and Iowa.