Illinois Gaming Is Big Business
On average, an establishment that offers video gaming terminals (VGT’s) generates $75,000 a year in commissions. That’s not chump change.
The Basics of Running an Illinois Gaming Establishment
It became possible to run a business that incorporated gambling machines when Illinois passed the Illinois Video Gaming Act in 2009. The law specified four types of establishments that could seek licenses to offer video slot machines if local ordinances allowed. (Some municipalities did and still do see fit to prohibit gambling machines.) The four types of establishment are as follows:
- Pouring establishments. As the name applies these are businesses with a liquor license to serve alcohol on premises. Bars, restaurants, coffee shops, hotels and dual license retailers are all considered pouring establishments;
- Truck stops. These are gas stations or convenience stores that occupy at least three acres, have separate diesel stands for commercial vehicles, designated commercial vehicle parking, and sell a minimum of 10,000 gallons of diesel fuel or biodiesel fuel per month;
- Veterans’ and fraternal organizations with national charters.
Your Illinois Gaming Establishment: Recent Developments
Illinois has since passed legislation that makes the situation somewhat more complicated. Here are some of the salient changes (depending on when you’re reading this, some may not yet have gone into effect):
- More machines. Formerly, most gaming establishments could have no more than five VGTs per license. The limit was recently increased to 6 VGT’s, though remain subject to local ordinances. Also, see the note on large truck stops below, as those establishments have different limits.
- Increased max bet and max win. The max bet is set to increase from $2 to $4 in early 2020. The max win on a single bet will also go from $500 to $1199.
- Bonus jackpots and progressives. Starting in early 2020, wagers placed on select VGT’s in a single establishment will contribute toward a cumulative progressive jackpot of up to $10,000.
- More convenient servicing of VGT’ Currently, an agent of the Illinois Gaming Board (IGB) must be present on site when a Licensed Terminal Handler performs maintenance, upgrades, and repairs on equipment. Effective early 2020, this will no longer be required, allowing for faster service resolution times.
- Large Truck Stop category. Illinois now makes a distinction between large and regular truck stops. Large truck stops must meet all regular truck stop criteria, while additionally selling a minimum of 50,000 gallons of diesel fuel and biodiesel fuel per month. Large truck stops must be situated within three road miles of a freeway interchange. The advantage of having your establishment classified as a large truck stop is the ability to have up to ten video slot machines on the premises, as opposed to a maximum of six.
- Video gaming at Illinois State Fairs. The Illinois State Fair can now operate up to 50 VGT’s; the DuQuoin State Fair can operate up to 30.
- The tax on gaming establishment revenue has gone up from 30% to 33%.
- Sports betting in Illinois will soon be permitted at racetracks, large sports stadiums, existing casinos, and online.
Maximizing Your Illinois Gaming Establishment Revenue
As you can see, the tax increase notwithstanding, most of these changes are to the business owner’s benefit. Make sure to follow these tips to maximize your VGT income:
- Market and promote your video slots both outside and inside your business (as permitted by local ordinance). Put signs, posters, etc. where they can’t be missed.
- Promote your video gambling on social media platforms. Offer incentives like free coffee, soft drinks, snacks, and/or food specials especially for VGT players.
- Provide friendly, engaged and knowledgeable staff to assist video slot players in their gaming experience.
- Make sure your restrooms are clean. Optimally, they should also be close to the gaming area.
- Make sure your gambling area is appropriately lit for a pleasant and exciting atmosphere (not too bright, not too dark).
- Create a private gaming environment by putting up half walls (6’ tall or more), building out a separate gaming rooms, or otherwise dividing the space from your main dining area segregated rooms.
- Open early to bring in matinee players. Open on Sundays if you can.
If you’d like to make your business an Illinois gaming establishment, choose Universal Gaming Group as your premier Terminal Operator. Our dedicated, expert staff will be by your side throughout the application and go-live process.