Illinois pocketed $422 million in state and local sales taxes from video gaming terminals in FY 2018, according to a report out Thursday from the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability.
Illinois’ 29,283 terminals made a net $1.4 billion in income last year, the sixth year that video gambling was legal in the state, according to the report.
However, the report found the growth of video gaming terminals has slowed in recent years. In FY 2015, for example, Illinois added an average of 272 new terminals per month. That figure dropped to 263 per month in FY 2016 and to 249 in FY 2017. In FY 2018, the average number of new terminals per month was just 201.
The slowed growth isn’t necessarily a reason for alarm, COGFA senior revenue analyst Eric Noggle wrote.
“Despite the slower pace of new terminals, the continued increase in new video gaming terminals suggests that this industry has yet to reach its peak,” Noggle wrote.
The thousands of video gaming terminals in Illinois are located in more than 7,000 establishments statewide, including Springfield, which boasts 630 terminals, the highest number of terminals of any city by far. Video gaming is still prohibited within Chicago city limits. Rockford, Decatur, Joliet and unincorporated areas of Lake County also are home to hundreds of terminals. But the number of terminals don’t tell the whole story.
“In terms of tax revenues generated from video gaming machines, Rockford generated the most in FY 2018, followed by Springfield, Decatur, Waukegan and Loves Park,” according to the report.
Video gaming was sold as a cash cow to lawmakers in the last major gambling expansion bill passed in Springfield in 2012. Revenue from the terminals is taxed at 30 percent, with five-sixths of the taxes going toward the Capital Projects Fund and the remaining one-sixth funneled to the local governments in which the video gaming machines are located.
The 2012 law capped the number of video gaming terminals any one establishment can have at five, though a bill pushed by State Rep. Bob Rita (D-Blue Island) would increase that number to six, along with expand gambling in various other forms across the state.
Despite the prohibition on video gaming terminals within Chicago, COGFA’s report said Cook County “still had, by far, the most video gaming terminals of any county” in Illinois last year with 5,071 terminals. Cook County also generated the most revenue of any other county, netting $298.6 million last year. But even with the large number of terminals in the suburban part of the county, Cook County ranked 97 of Illinois’ 102 counties in terms of net terminal income per capita.
The local share of taxes from the video game terminals have also been a boon for cities and towns. The portion of taxes collected that go to municipalities jumped from $6.1 million in 2013 to $70.3 million last year. That figure has steadily risen by about $10 million in each of the last four years.