SPRINGFIELD – The state of Illinois and local governments saw tax revenue from video gambling more than double last year.
The Springfield bureau of Lee Enterprises newspapers (http://bit.ly/15JcgvG ) reports the state made nearly $165 million in 2014 from video gambling, up from roughly $75 million in 2013. Municipalities got nearly $33 million, an increase from $15 million.
As of December, there were more than 19,000 video gambling machines across the state. The first machines went live in September 2012.
Gamblers put $2.4 billion into the machines last year, up from $1.1 billion in 2013, with $1.8 billion coming back out to players in 2014. The state gets 25 percent of the revenue, while municipalities receive 5 percent.
The Illinois Gaming Board says revenue from casinos fell nearly $87 million in 2014 from a year earlier. Tom Swoik, executive director of the Illinois Casino Gaming Association, blamed the decline on the spread of video gambling machines.
"I constantly hear from people who say they can just go down to the corner bar and play the slots, rather than driving to a casino," Swoik said.
Casino admission fell 1.4 million from 2013 to 2014. Lawmakers have long talked about adding more casinos in the state.
"I think it just shows that we're saturated," Swoik said.
Video gambling machines are banned in 175 municipalities, down from 200 a year earlier.
State regulations limit machines to bars, truck stops and fraternal organizations. But businesses that have found loopholes include a former TV repair shop in Springfield and a flower shop.