Illinois Breaks $1B In 2021 Gaming Revenue, More To Come

  • The Illinois Gaming Board has reported over $1 billion in revenue from legal sports wagering and casino gaming from January through October 2021.
  • This number is set to increase astronomically, as state gaming regulators have approved multiple new casinos in the greater Chicago area.

CHICAGO - The Illinois Gaming Board is reporting over $1 billion in revenue from sports betting and casino gaming from January 2021 through October 2021.

Despite this impressive revenue figure, the Illinois gaming industry is still in its infancy. In June of 2019, the Illinois legislature passed SB 0690, a comprehensive bill which included expansion to the gaming industry as well as the Sports Wagering Act.

This act legalized and regulated sports betting in Illinois, and called for the establishment of six casinos in the Chicago area to complement the nine already-established Illinois casinos outside of the greater Chicago area.

To date, only one of those Chicago-area casinos has launched - the Hard Rock Casino in Rockford, which opened a temporary location in November.

Chicago-Area Casinos Coming

This is about to change, however, after state gaming regulators approved a winning bid for a casino in Waukegan, a Chicago suburb. The gaming regulators also approved casinos to be placed in Homewood and East Hazel Crest, two other Chicago suburbs.

The Waukegan casino bid was surrounded with a fair bit of controversy, after the committee narrowed the bids down to the final two. One bid was led by former Illinois Senator Michael Bond, with the other submitted by Full House Resorts, a publicly-traded company based out of Nevada which currently operates five casino properties throughout the United States.

Full House Resorts CEO Daniel Lee held a presentation in October to outline the company’s vision for the Chicago-area casino.

In the presentation, Lee spoke of his plans for the casino to harbor a helipad, similar to high-end casinos in Las Vegas, for high-stakes gambling players. He also outlined attractions for non-gamblers, including a fountain show in the casino lobby. These elements are part of his plan to bring Las Vegas-style “pizzazz” to the Waukegan venue.

“It becomes an attraction you want to come and see, and it’s a non-gaming attraction that when people come into town, you will bring them here,” Lee said.

Southern Illinois Adding Casinos

The Waukegan casino is just one of the several Illinois gambling venues currently slated to open in the near future.

On Wednesday, five hours south of Chicago in Cartersville, a groundbreaking ceremony was held for the new Walker’s Bluff Casino. The ceremony was attended by Governor J.B. Pritzker, who spoke at the event.

“I was very proud to work with the General Assembly to expand jobs and economic opportunity to southern Illinois,” the Governor said during his address. "Walker’s Bluff was already a popular attraction bringing in tourists and business meetings from across the region. Now with the addition of hundreds of slot machines, and game tables and an on-site hotel, this expansion will bring in even more visitors to take advantage of the beauty and the hospitality of southern Illinois.”