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The pot continues to thicken for video gaming

Patrons putting more money into the slots this year

Published: Saturday, Aug. 23, 2014 1:15 a.m. CDT

The first 7 months of 2014 saw more action on video gaming terminals than all of last year.

In 2013, about $12.8 million was paid into gaming terminals at establishments with licenses issued by Sterling, Dixon, Rock Falls, Lee County and Whiteside County, according to the monthly reports from the Illinois Gaming Board.

From January through July of this year, that figure increased to $16.4 million, while the number of terminals in establishments increased from 243 to 276. Only Lee County reported having fewer terminals in 2014 than in 2013 – 36 and 39, respectively.

By law, only certain businesses are permitted to have gaming terminals, including those with a liquor license allowing alcohol to be served, like a bar or restaurant, or a truck stop or a veteran’s group, such as an American Legion hall.

Glenn Leonard is director of compliance and security with Gold Rush Amusements, a company that provides the gaming terminals. He said the increase in the number of terminals is a result of the profitability and small investment.

“The establishments have very little invested in the games,” he said. “They provide the space and license and electricity. The significant investment is ours.”

The increased popularity of the games, he said, can be attributed to the low wagers and payouts, meaning they’re attractive to a larger portion of the population.

The money paid out by the machines increased from $9.3 million in all of 2013 to $11.8 million in the first 7 months of 2014. But that is due to an increase in the total amount of money that was played, not a higher rate of winning.

In 2013, on average, 29 cents of every dollar put into a gaming terminal was a loss to the player. In 2014, 28 cents of every dollar put into a terminal was a loss, on average.

Thirty percent of those losses, which are revenue for the terminal, are sent to the state and license-issuing municipality as tax. And 70 percent is split between the establishment and terminal provider – like Gold Rush Amusements – depending on the individual agreement.

In both 2013 and so far in 2014, Dixon received the most revenue from the terminals. Dixon’s 96 terminals at the end of July 2014 were 40 more than Sterling, the next highest.

In the nearly 2 years since terminals started making their appearance in the area, Dixon has received $163,881 – almost twice Sterling’s $87,786 during that time.

Dixon Mayor Jim Burke said the city had not decided on a specific use for the money, but said Commissioner Dennis Considine had floated the idea of using it for a youth program.

“I know that there has been some conversation about it,” Burke said. “... I think it would be a good idea to maybe earmark that for different things.”

Highlighting the terminals’ profitability for businesses, several Dixon gas stations approached the city in May to ask to be given liquor licenses to serve alcohol so they, too, could have gaming terminals.

That idea was quickly shot down by the City Council in a unanimous vote, and this week Burke said he didn’t think expansion of video gaming to other establishments was necessary.

“There’s no sympathy for that at all,” Burke said Thursday, referring to the gas stations. “I don’t think we need any more of this gaming. I really don’t know whether or not it’ll expand.”

Video gaming in the region by the numbers

Dixon

Terminals in 2013: 86

Terminals in 2014: 96

Increase: 12 percent

Amount Paid In 2013: $5,062,886

Amount Paid in 2014: $6,392,214

Increase: 26 percent

Amount Paid Out 2013: $3,561,815

Amount Paid Out 2014: $4,622,796

Increase: 30 percent

Local Tax Revenue 2013: $75,053

Local Tax Revenue 2014: $88,472

Increase: 18 percent

Sterling

Terminals in 2013: 52

Terminals in 2014: 56

Increase: 8 percent

Amount Paid In 2013: $2,742,613

Amount Paid in 2014: $3,490,617

Increase: 27 percent

Amount Paid Out 2013: $1,980,936

Amount Paid Out 2014: $2,535,069

Increase: 28 percent

Local Tax Revenue 2013: $38,085

Local Tax Revenue 2014: $47,778

Increase: 25 percent

Rock Falls

Terminals in 2013: 42

Terminals in 2014: 54

Increase: 29 percent

Amount Paid In 2013: $2,877,402

Amount Paid in 2014: $3,320,691

Increase: 15 percent

Amount Paid Out 2013: $2,070,573

Amount Paid Out 2014: $2,424,070

Increase: 17 percent

Local Tax Revenue 2013: $40,341

Local Tax Revenue 2014: $44,831

Increase: 11 percent

Lee County

Terminals in 2013: 39

Terminals in 2014: 36

Decrease: 8 percent

Amount Paid In 2013: $673,855

Amount Paid in 2014: $1,107,125

Increase: 64 percent

Amount Paid Out 2013: $468,496

Amount Paid Out 2014: $805,512

Increase: 72 percent

Local Tax Revenue 2013: $10,268

Local Tax Revenue 2014: $15,081

Increase: 47 percent

Whiteside County

Terminals in 2013: 24

Terminals in 2014: 34

Increase: 42 percent

Amount Paid In 2013: $1,496,463

Amount Paid in 2014: $2,118,420

Increase: 42 percent

Amount Paid Out 2013: $1,050,208

Amount Paid Out 2014: $2,118,420

Increase: 102 percent

Local Tax Revenue 2013: $22,313

Local Tax Revenue 2014: $28,923

Increase: 30 percent

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