Illinois Gambling Expansion Could Attract Some of Biggest Names in Industry
The move was approved last month (June 2019) after the state’s Legislature confirmed the gambling reform which will include the opening of up to six new casinos (including one in Chicago), as well as the addition of slot machines at O’Hare International and Chicago Midway airports.
However, this piece of legislation is still lacking the signature of Governor J.B. Pritzker, which should not pose a problem as the state’s Governor has so far been supportive of the gambling expansion.
Numbers Going Up
Under the provisions of the new bill, gambling venues across the state will be able to add 30,000 slot machines and video gaming terminals, although experts believe that not all available positions will be filled.
It is estimated the number of new slots and gaming terminals will be somewhere between 15,000 and 20,000.
Commenting on the upcoming reform, SunTrust Robinson Humphrey analyst Barry Jonas confirmed these estimates but pointed out this number would be reached assuming all the new casinos get built. He also added he believed that between $79 million and $224 million could be generated in earnings from the sales of new gaming units.
An Opportunity for Manufacturers
Derik Mooberry, Executive Vice President and Group Chief Executive of Gaming at Scientific Games said his company was excited as the recently green-lighted piece of legislation offered a lot of opportunities for the renowned manufacturer.
Scientific Games is one of the leading suppliers in the Illinois market, so it’s likely to seen take part in the process of expansion.
Another big name in the business of supplying gaming machines, IGT, sees the expansion as a big opportunity. Speaking about the company’s plans, Paul O’Shaughnessy, IGT Vice President of Global Communications, Trade Shows, and Creative Services, announced the firm would move to install its machines at airports across the states.
Some Operators Are Not so Enthusiastic
Some of the biggest players are more cautious about the opportunities the upcoming expansion will offer.
Penn National Gaming stated it was still reviewing the bill as it represented one of the biggest expansions in the last couple of years, and in a state already saturated in terms of gaming.
Former Governor of Nevada and now the President of Global Gaming Development at MGM Resorts International, Brian Sandoval, said Illinois presented a new and dynamic market and pointed out the company would certainly consider its options in that market.
Las Vegas Sands stated it had no immediate plans to expand its operations in Illinois, and therefore was not considering any potential opportunities the expansion offered.
All in all, experts agree Chicago has the potential to draw some of the biggest casino operators in the business due to its volume of visitors, which reached 58 million during 2018.
However, the state’s high tax rates and other costs could discourage many operators from expanding. Casinos in Illinois are taxed on a graduated basis – which in practice means the more money they generate, the higher taxes they pay.