Illinois Casinos Post Surprising Revenue Numbers In First Month Since Reopening

Illinois casinos got the green light to reopen July 1. Casino operators in the Prairie State have to be pleased with the revenue numbers posted in the first 30 days back in business.

Despite limited capacity restrictions, Illinois casinos took in more than $82.6 million in July. That figure is down about 29 percent when compared to July 2019 revenue numbers, but comes with state casinos restricted to allowing only 50 percent capacity.

Monthly revenue figures released by the Illinois Gaming Board showed relatively good news for the state’s ten land-based casinos. While the numbers are down from the July 2019 overall revenue total of $115.7 million, Illinois casinos performed well given the circumstances.

Rivers Casino Des Plaines topped all Illinois retail casinos with nearly $30.3 million in revenue. That number is down just 18 percent from July 2019, with the property running at full capacity in the pre-COVID era.

Harrah’s Joilet posted the second-highest revenue totals in the state. The property took in just over $11.8 million, down about 19 percent versus July 2019.

Illinois Casinos Resilient In First Month Back

All retail casinos in Illinois were forced to shut down on March 16 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced in June that casinos would be able to resume operations July 1.

The new reality for Illinois casinos includes a mandate that properties can only operate with up to 50 percent of their normal maximum capacity. Customers and employees must wear face coverings at all times, and the plexiglass divides that have become the norm at casinos nationwide are also in play for Illinois.

Social distancing and unprecedented sanitation protocols are also a part of Illinois casino reopening guidelines, and the 50 percent capacity mandate could be reevaluated and restricted even further at any time. With all of those factors in mind, however, Illinois customers returned to state casinos and contributed to a relatively prosperous month for casino operators.

External Slots Gain Over Last Year

Illinois gambling laws permit several kinds of non-casino businesses to offer slot machines. Aside from the slots enjoyed on the floors of Illinois’ ten casinos, more than 35,000 additional video gaming terminals operate throughout the state at various bars, restaurants, and truck stops.

The July 1 reopening date applied to the video gaming terminals at these non-traditional locales. Revenue numbers for gaming terminals not located inside one of the state’s ten casinos actually gained versus July 2019.

Revenue from external slot machines reached over $166 million in July 2020, gaining 24 percent over July 2019. The 2020 figures include 3,000 additional machines installed since July 2019, however.

The Illinois Gaming Board tracks and reports revenue from all ten state casinos, as well as video gaming terminals outside of those casinos. Revenue reports detailing those external gaming terminals can be generated here.

About the Author

Geoff Fisk

Geoff Fisk is a San Diego-based freelance writer, specializing in the poker and gambling industries. He’s written for numerous platforms and has traveled the globe as a live poker tournament reporter. Geoff’s interests include the legal online poker industry in the U.S. and abroad.