Gambling revenues in Illinois during the last fiscal year hit an all-time high for the state, according to the latest data, with almost $1.9 billion going into its coffers. The new record is up by 35.7% from the previous high, set in 2019, when the Prairie State generated $1.4 billion in gaming revenue.
Raking in more than $833 million, lottery sales generated the most gambling revenue for Illinois from July 2021 to June 2022, according to a report by the Illinois General Assembly's Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability.
That is up nearly 6% from the previous fiscal year, and comes despite a decrease in actual sales. The dip in sales was offset by fewer winners, and reduced operating expenses. Additionally, lottery officials touted the growth of the state’s iLottery platform for part of the increased revenues, up 64% to almost $279 million in sales.
"Online lottery play is an integral and growing segment of the Illinois Lottery's offering," said Keith Horton, general manager of Camelot Illinois, the state's lottery contractor, as reported by Daily Herald. "Regular technology updates to the online platform improve the player experience and have helped drive growth over the past few years."
According to The Center Square, the report suggested instant games by the lottery and video gaming in local establishments are credited for boosting gambling revenues. Video gambling revenue generated a total of $762 million for the state, a record-breaking figure for the category. It was up more than 52% from the previous fiscal year, a notable increase.
The hike in video gambling figures is partly attributed to a change in the law that increased the state’s revenue share in this vertical and allowed for the addition of more machines. At the end of June 2022, the state was generating revenue from 43,128 machines in 7,967 establishments, which amounts to 7.4% more terminals in 4.5% more establishments than the previous fiscal year.
While the lottery accounted for the lion’s share of the last fiscal year's revenues, casinos also saw a good year, recovering from pandemic-related closures and leading the state to collect $140 million. However, while a rebound seems to be in place, the figures are still short of pre-Covid levels. Still, industry officials are optimistic about the future of the sector.
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“Casinos are getting back to revenue totals they were seeing before the pandemic, and that’s at a time when there are multiple new gaming outlets available to casino patrons,” said Tom Thanas, executive director of the Illinois Casino Gaming Association. “I think there was pent-up demand and people wanted to get out and socialize.”
As for sports betting, now in its third year, Illinois collected $142 million during the reported period, more than double the previous year’s figure. Meanwhile, horse racing generated $7 million – expected to drop next fiscal year due to the closure of Arlington International Racecourse –, and other various gaming operations including bingo, raffles, and pull tabs generated about $4 million for the state.
The commission’s report concludes with a warning that "with so many entities competing for the gaming dollar,” the issue continues to be whether “Illinois can support this level of expansion.” The question has its reasons: it comes at a time in which a new report predicted that legalized iGaming could generate $273.3 million a year in new revenue for the state, and at a point in which new casinos seek to expand their presence in the Land of Lincoln.