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Three of five video gambling machines at Super Bowl in Peru await customers. The Super Bowl bowling alley owners are pleased so far with use of the machines by customers, including some who would not otherwise frequent the establishment. NewsTribune photo/Jeff Dankert
The money-making power of video gambling machines is becoming more apparent with each monthly report released by the Illinois Gaming Board.
Statewide in November, patrons spent more than $12.2 million and lost more than $3.8 million. The state received $957,333 and municipalities received $191,466, according to the November report.
One of the biggest local revenue-generators was Road Ranger truck stop on Interstate 80 in Princeton. Its players spent $63,829 and lost $19,992 in November. The site has five games, the maximum number of machines allowed at each location.
At the Illinois Valley Super Bowl bowling alley in Peru, co-owner Bob Stubler is pleased with results so far with his five machines.
“I can honestly say I’m pleasantly surprised,” he said. “We have some big-time players that probably wouldn’t be at the Super Bowl otherwise. That being said, it’s been very good for us.”
Establishments are permitted to set the odds within limits, Stubler said. Theoretically, this allows each site to raise or lower odds to encourage player participation and maximize profits. So far, Stubler is seeing increased usage week to week, with lines sometimes forming behind his five machines.
“The good part is, it’s going up,” he said.
Legalized video gambling began Oct. 9 in Illinois. It was deemed a revenue source for the cash-strapped state and local governments. On the first day there were 278 licensed machines at 65 locations. As of late December there were more than 2,000 machines at more than 500 locations and climbing, according to said Gene O’Shea, gaming board spokesman.
Video gambling is “going hog wild,” and hasn’t hit the ceiling yet in Illinois, O’Shea said. “It will be interesting to see over time if the spending levels remain constant,” O’Shea said. “It’s so new we don’t know. You might have people playing more now because they know the machines are regulated.”
November’s $3.8 million in player losses are divvied up among establishment locations, the state, local governments, terminal operators and Scientific Games, which maintains a statewide communication and monitoring system for video gambling.
The state receives 25 percent and local governments receive 5 percent. Scientific Games receives about 1 percent. The remaining 69 percent is divided equally between the establishment (location) and the terminal operator — the company that provides machines to each establishment.
November receipts for the Road Ranger in Princeton showed the city received $1,000, the state received $4,998, and the truck stop received nearly $7,000.
There is another small slice from the video gambling revenue pie. The November report accounts for “credits,” typically amounts of a few dollars or pennies. These are unclaimed winnings left on machines, O’Shea said. The statewide credits for November were $726.23, which included $497.48 at the Road Ranger in Rochelle, according to the report.
Jeff Dankert can be reached at (815) 220-6977 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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