Land-based casinos aren’t the moneymakers that they once were. There was a point in time when the bulk of the revenue on the Las Vegas Strip came from gambling. Nowadays, there are multiple streams of revenue from shows, to pool parties, to dining and much more. Non-Vegas casinos are also looking for other methods of making money, which has led to video gambling being incorporated by some venues.
Illinois seems to be at the forefront of the video gambling conversation nowadays. Four years ago, they had none of it. Nowadays, the number soars over 23,000 machines. That could be taken to the next level very shortly as Rivers Casino – the biggest profit-grossing casino in the entire state – has invested over $32 million in Accel Entertainment Gaming, which is the biggest video-gambling supplier in Illinois. They’re not the first to make such a move as two more companies that own four more casinos in the state teamed up with two huge video-gambling operators.
Those 23,000-plus machines currently in operation have been spread over 5,658 places across Illinois. Venues like gas stations and truck stops and bars, and there are even places called casino cafes. People can come in, enjoy a nice cup of coffee and throw some money into the terminal. Then the money is split between three factions: the people that operate the terminals, the owners of the places where the machines are played, and, of course, the state government.
It’s turned out to be a very lucrative business as the numbers show that Illinois brought in over $913 million from video-gambling terminals in 2015 and that meant over $274 million was put back into the community. So far in 2016, the video-gambling terminals have brought in over $459 million and that is just as of July. It is also almost as much as the 10 casinos that are run in Illinois have brought in.
For Illinois, the key is that has been reaching players who don’t want to specifically venture all the way to a casino just to gamble for a few hours. There’s a new generation of people that have grown up with mobile phones and online gambling, and they’re used to having access to what they want from wherever they are. While online gambling is still not fully kosher in the United States, many players are used to the fact that they don’t have to drive an hour or two to get to a venue to gamble. Video gambling now gives those players access to gaming without having to travel as far. They can go about their normal routine and still connect to those games.
If this works well for Illinois, and it appears to be doing so, expect other states to start investing. Since the growth of the internet, land-based casinos have long struggled to reach the players who play online – or play from wherever they are located – as they simply can’t offer their service over a phone like the offshore companies can. However, with video gaming, they can at least get a little bit closer to the player and that will translate into billions as the state of Illinois has already shown.