Experts Cast Doubt on Illinois’ Potential Gambling Revenue Jackpot

Experts Cast Doubt on Illinois’ Potential Gambling Revenue Jackpot

ILLINOIS (IRN) — Illinois officials have their eyes on a potential payday from legalizing new forms of gambling, but state revenue specialists warn that it may not be the jackpot they’re hoping for.

Illinois lawmakers are looking to bank some revenue on a trifecta of legalizing sports betting, online internet gaming and fantasy sports. They’re scheduled to hear arguments for legislation doing so Wednesday in Springfield.

The state would follow New Jersey in legalizing sports betting after a landmark Supreme Court case in May allowed for sports betting outside of Nevada. September was the first month of recorded revenue reflecting New Jersey’s new availability of gaming. They recorded $24 million in total revenue from legalized sports on $184 million in wagers.

Eric Noggle, senior revenue analyst with the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability, worries that Illinois may have too many opportunities and not enough gamblers.

“The idea that adding more gaming opportunities into an area that already has it makes us concerned that maybe we’re not going to get the amount of revenue that people are hoping for,” he said.

COGFA’s annual gaming report says the state brings in $2.8 billion in gambling revenue, but there has been a shift to video gaming and away from the 10 operating casinos and three horse tracks.

It also said Indiana’s total gaming revenue has dropped to $2.1 billion, down from $2.8 billion in 2009, presumably affected by Illinois’ expanded gaming opportunities.

There is also legislation that could see multiple new casinos open, mostly in the Chicago area. The proposed legislation reduces the taxes on new gaming outlets. Noggle says lawmakers need to decide what their priorities are: new gaming jobs at casinos or increased gambling revenues.

“Most of the gaming proposals we’ve seen come with a reduced tax structure,” he said. “When you tax that money, you’re not getting near as much as people would have probably hoped for.”

Opponents of gambling expansion say it gives more opportunity for addiction and financial ruin as well as a potential outlet for children to gamble.