Attention gambling policy wonks

Attention gambling policy wonks

Posted by Mike Riopell on Thu, 09/15/2011 - 10:57

The state's wonkiest wonk panel (this is a compliment) has put out their annual report on gambling in Illinois. You can find the full thing here.

The Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability is a bipartisan government panel whose budget projections and other reports are relied on heavily by lawmakers.

So what's the report say? Well, it's long, but we'll hit you with some highlights from the summary. It's nice to forget about politics for a bit and learn some nitty-gritty government details, isn't it?

Well, it is for me.


In FY 2011, the State’s share of horse racing, lottery, and riverboat revenue reached $1.021 billion, a 2.9% decline from FY 2010 levels. This is the lowest combined total for these revenue sources since FY 2001.

Lesson 1: That's not good for a state struggling with its budget problems. Though FY2011 ended before the lucrative Rivers Casino in Des Plaines opened. What's next?

In FY 2011, lottery transfers comprised 65.6% of total gaming revenues, whereas riverboat transfers comprised 33.6%, and horse racing 0.7%.

Lesson 2: Despite all the talk about casinos and racetracks, the Illinois Lottery brings a ton more money into the state, double the boats. And horse racing, as a direct means of bringing in state revenue, barely exists.

And we've talked many times about declining casino revenues, except for in Des Plaines. What does the panel think causes that?

These factors include the struggling economy, increased competition from other states, and the effects of the graduated tax structure. However, the numbers continue to suggest that the biggest

contributor to the drop in Illinois casino revenues is the indoor smoking ban. Since the indoor smoking ban began in January 2008, adjusted gross receipts for Illinois riverboats have fallen a combined 30.7% from pre-smoking ban levels.

It goes on for many pages. If you'd like to indulge yourself with the full report, go here.

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