New Chicago Mayor Could Bring VGTs To the City

The suburbs of Chicago are inching closer and closer to accessing video game terminals in bars and restaurants in their neighborhoods. Not too long ago, Chicago’s Human Services Committee, which is in charge of protecting the interests of the state and its people, finally approved these slot-like machines to start being offered within neighborhoods.

The change was proposed by Alder Devon Reid to revise old regulations in the Evanston City Code. Before this code was revised, it was illegal based on the Illinois Video Gaming Act. However, now that the Human Services Committee approved the addition of video game terminals in the city code, Evanston can now take full advantage of the growing demand for gambling.

Passed in 2012, the city code in Evanston prevented local eateries and bars from taking part in the state’s Video Gaming Act. Based on the Illinois Video Gaming Act, municipalities and cities in the state are allowed to regulate whether or not to allow VGT gaming in their authorities.

Alderman Reid, therefore, requested the Evanston Human Services Committee to amend this law that would see the machines permitted in the area. According to Alderman Reid, the addition of these new video game terminals in bars and restaurants will go a long way in boosting Evanston’s revenue.

Evanston is also where Northwestern University, which is one of the most recognized private universities in the country, is located. The University is home to more than 23,000 students, which presents a real revenue opportunity that is waiting to be explored by the residents. 

This decision to permit video game terminals in local establishments will no doubt have considerable implications for the success of the gambling industry. The new terminals will provide much-needed revenue for businesses while providing locals with more varied entertainment options. 

Although Alder Devon Reid’s proposal was accepted by the authorities, there is still a lot that has to be done before everything can be put in place. For instance, further approval processes need to be finalized before the new measure can be implemented in Evanston fully. The outcome of this new market will help to shape the gambling landscape in Evanston and will set the tone for other cities to follow.

Now that video game terminals are legal in Evanston, the city’s officials in charge of regulating the terminals will be looking to borrow from Berwyn. Berwyn is yet another small Chicago suburb that approved the presence of video game terminals in its local establishments and the results have been outstanding. In 2022, Berwyn’s 29 video game terminals in total generated a massive gross gaming revenue of $17.3 million. 

Out of the $17.3 million that the city generated, Berwyn received a share of $866,273, which is not bad at all. Considering that Berwyn is much smaller than Evanston, imagine the potential for growth in the new market. The considerable earnings from video game terminals highlight the massive financial effect that video game terminals can have in a small community. 

By giving locals access to these terminals, Berwyn has managed to produce considerable revenue, which has gone a long way in contributing to the city’s development. The success that both Berwyn and Evanston record will also serve as a reference point for other municipalities in Chicago that should wish to implement similar measures. 

Moving forward, we expect even more states to follow suit. The state’s video gaming act permits video gaming terminals in municipalities and cities where local officials license them. Each bar or eatery can have a maximum of 6 video game terminals with the revenue being split among 5 parties.

As you can expect, video gaming terminal operators and host establishments reap the biggest rewards from the arrangement. Generally, approximately 65% of the profits are split between the host and the operator. The state also received a share of 29% of the total revenue while the municipality is also awarded 5% of the revenue.

The residual 0.8% is then distributed to the state Gaming Board to cover its supervisory costs. When residents are readily allowed to place sports bets from their phones, adding video gaming terminals will only add a fresh layer of excitement for gamblers. With video gaming terminals coming to town soon, Evanston expects to see its tax receipts improve before the end of this year.

Video game terminals have always performed well in Illinois

The video gaming terminals market has always been a prosperous one. For years, the highest revenue source for the state has always been the lottery which produced approximately $833 million in 2022. However, over the last couple of years, video gaming has emerged as the second-highest source of revenue for the state.

In 2019, the state had 40,157 VGT units distributed all over. As per the state gambling board, VGT boasts a machine average win rate of $177 each day for every machine. Part of the reason video gaming terminals perform so well is because they are convenient to find and use. They also require very little investment on the part of the gambler.

As far as VGT operators are concerned, 2 main operators rule the lion’s share of the VGT market in Illinois, namely Accel Entertainment and J&J Ventures. Other small operators exist including Gold Rush Amusements and the Prairie State Gaming.

Based on Bill SB 690, which saw the expansion of video gaming in Linnois, the maximum wager that every machine can make is $4. Based on these numbers, video gaming generates more than $40 million in tax revenue for the state each year. 

Final Thoughts

The approval of video game terminals in the Evanston and Berwyn suburbs marks a big step in expanding betting opportunities and potentially boosting the development potential for these suburbs. The decision to modify the city’s code thus permitting VGTs in bars and restaurant reflects a mounting recognition of the high revenue-generating potential that these machines have. For the cities that implement VGTs in local establishments, the code modification has opened up new possibilities not just for businesses but patrons alike.