A challenging month for slot revenue offset gains at the tables
By CHRIS ALTRUDA
The Illinois Gaming Board reported $114 million in casino gaming revenue in November, as a dip in electronic gaming device (EGD) and slots revenue offset a year-best total from table games.
The total was 1.7% lower than the $116 million generated in October as admissions to the state’s 11 gaming venues dipped 4.3% to 770,693. That was the lowest admissions figure since June, when 745,546 admissions were counted, and the first time since August the number dropped below 800,000.
While there was that notable decline in admissions, the $147.91 in revenue per admission was 2.7% higher versus the previous month, representing an increase of nearly $4 per admission. The average for the calendar year is $148.17 from more than 8.3 million admissions.
Net terminal income (NTI) from video gaming terminals (VGTs) totaled $224.8 million, a decline of 4.2% compared to October. Funds in, the actual money players insert into the VGTs, also lagged compared to the previous month at $869.4 million, also down 4.2%. The state’s share of taxes from NTI came to $65.2 million, lifting the overall amount for the 2022 calendar year to $728.3 million.
The state’s progressive tax rates on revenue meant that receipts slightly increased despite the dip in revenue, with Illinois coffers receiving $31.1 million in November. That lifted the overall total for 2022 to $257.5 million — more than the $248.7 million in receipts for all of 2021. That total does not include sports wagering in Illinois, which generated an additional $92.3 million in state taxes through the first 10 months of the year.
Revamped Grand Victoria making table gains
Grand Victoria Casino in Elgin, which recently completed a $4 million renovation that included enhanced amenities for its poker room, reported a 44.3% jump in table games revenue to a year-best $4 million as the per-admission revenue climbed 18.1% to $42.33. Admissions at the suburban Chicago casino in November also reached a 2022-high at 94,990 — 18.2% better than October and 15.8% higher than the previous high of 82,023 in March.
Hollywood Casino in Aurora also had a year-best month for table games revenue, surpassing $2 million for the first time since last December and doing so despite a 10.3% decline in admissions compared to October. The average table games revenue per admission spiked nearly 30% versus October to $30.28, also marking the first time in 11 months it surpassed $30 per admission.
Rivers Casino reported a fourth consecutive month of declines in table games revenue from its year-high of $19.1 million in August, but the $18.4 million in November was nearly flat compared to the previous month. The Des Plaines venue accounted for 58.8% of the $31.4 million in table games revenue for November, the first time it was under 60% since April.
Hard Rock bucks declining slots revenue trend
Overall slot revenue in Illinois totaled $82.6 million in November, a decline of 3.5% compared to October and the lowest figure since June. It is also 12.1% lower compared to the year-high $94 million reported in July, though the $107.20 average revenue per admission for slot play was nearly $1 higher than in October.
Hard Rock, which continues to operate its temporary casino after breaking ground on its $310 million permanent venue in September, surpassed $5 million in revenue for the first time since its all-time high of $5.1 million in April and for the second time in 13 months of operation. The November total was a 1.9% month-over-month increase and left Hard Rock less than $220,000 shy of $50 million in revenue for the year.
Harrah’s in Joliet was the only other venue in the state to see a month-over-month increase in slot revenue, ticking 2% higher to more than $9.4 million.
Grand Victoria’s gains at the table outpaced its decline in slots as it fell back under $10 million for the second time in four months, settling at $9.8 million while the average revenue per admission for that vertical plunged nearly $25 to $103.19.
In terms of overall casino revenue numbers by venue, Grand Victoria had the biggest month-over-month gain at 8% to more than $13.8 million, and Harrah’s in Joliet rode its slot increase to an overall 1.9% improvement to $11.8 million. Argosy Casino in Alton had the sharpest decline in revenue figures compared to October, dropping 16.9% to $2.4 million. Hollywood Casino in Joliet was the only other location to have a double-digit drop, tumbling 10.3% to $6.7 million as table games revenue fell off by nearly one-third.
Rivers paced all venues in November with $45.5 million in total revenue, a decline of 2.2% from the previous month and 8.8% lower from its 2022-best of $49.8 million in July. It was also the first time since May that Rivers’ revenue total accounted for less than 40% of the state’s overall total, though its $130.2 million in tax payments does account for more than half the amount collected by the state.
Four of the 11 casinos posted month-over-month gains, though DraftKings at Casino Queen in East St. Louis was practically flat as the nearly $6.4 million in revenue was an increase of $7,377 from October.
VGT month-over-month metrics lag
Economic headwinds have been a drag on VGT play for most of the last six months, and October was the only month with more than $900 million in funds in. November’s total was the second-lowest of 2022, ahead of only the $843.7 million inserted in June, and is almost $25 million less than the year’s high-water mark of $249.6 million established in March.
The declines come despite the fact that the IGB has been licensing establishments and adding machines at a steady clip the entire year as allowed in the 2019 gaming expansion bill. The 44,683 terminals in operation statewide in November are over 3,000 more than the 41,657 that were accepting funds in January. The number of establishments with VGTs has also climbed throughout 2022, going from 7,784 at the beginning of the year to 8,195 reported for November.
The year-over-year metrics for comparison for both November 2021 and year-to-date show gains in both time periods, with the caveat of an additional 3,216 machines added in the 12-month span. NTI was up 9.5% compared to November 2021, with funds in up 8.4% versus the $802.3 million inserted into terminals last year.
NTI for 2022 will surpass $2.5 billion, and the $2.48 billion for the first 11 months is 9.7% higher versus the $2.26 billion generated for the same span in 2021. State tax receipts from VGT play are running $73.5 million ahead of 2021’s pace, and taxes from all three disciplines — casino gaming, sports wagering, and VGTs — have totaled $1.08 billion heading into the final month of the year.