Grand Vic takes big hit from Des Plaines casino
BY DAVE McKINNEY firstname.lastname@example.org July 10, 2012 7:00PM
Updated: August 12, 2012 6:42AM
SPRINGFIELD — The Rivers Casino in Des Plaines has muscled overall state revenues and admissions to casinos higher so far this year but seemingly at the expense of neighboring casinos — including the Grand Victoria in Elgin — whose numbers have dropped sharply, state records show.
Those findings in the latest Illinois Gaming Board report confirm that the Rivers Casino has more than met expectations that it would become a massive money-machine while possibly cannibalizing some of its closest competitors.
And the overall uptick this year in total gambling revenues statewide differs from casino numbers in Indiana that have stayed flat. It also comes as a major casino expansion bill that would allow for a casino in Chicago faces a likely veto by Gov. Pat Quinn.
During June alone, the Des Plaines casino took in a whopping $42.5 million in revenues, easily doubling its next busiest rival, Harrah’s Casino in Joliet, which generated $17.8 million in revenues, state records showed.
“I think it’s exceeding expectations,” said Tom Swoik, executive director of the Illinois Casino Gaming Association, a trade group representing the state’s casino industry.
Rivers Casino’s admissions for the month were equally lopsided compared to its rivals. During June, the Des Plaines casino had 325,115 patrons come through its doors, again more than doubling business at the next busiest casino, the Casino Queen in East St. Louis, records show.
“There may be a few people coming from Indiana, but I don’t think it’s anywhere near what was anticipated,” Swoik said of the Rivers Casino. “I think a high percentage is coming from other Illinois casinos.”
Between January and May, all Illinois casinos had $698.7 million in revenues, which represented a 22 percent gain from the $570.7 million that was brought in during the same period last year.
And admissions statewide rose by 23 percent during that five-month span this year, although six of the state’s 10 casinos had fewer gambling patrons during June as compared to June 2011.
The drain in revenues and bettors appears to be most acute at the Grand Victoria Casino, which once was Illinois’ most profitable casino. In June, Grand Victoria’s revenues dropped by 25 percent to $17.5 million, less than half of the revenues it generated on a monthly basis five years ago.
Admissions there fell 16 percent to 136,549 between June 2011 and June 2012, records showed.
Representatives of the Des Plaines and Elgin casinos did not return phone messages Tuesday inquiring about the figures.