Illinois Gaming Revenue: A Closer Look at the Growing Industry

Gaming today is much different than it was a few decades ago. Most notably, just about everyone in Illinois can now access gaming through terminals at hotels, bars, casinos, and party venues. This availability and the changes in gaming culture have led to a massive market of potential revenue. Today, the barrier to entry in the gaming space is much lower. For businesses owners, gaming has proven to be a great way to increase foot traffic and income and, for the state, a boon in tax revenues.

Let’s look at the past, present, and future of the gaming industry and how business owners and entrepreneurs can take advantage of this booming market.

The Expansion of Gaming in Illinois

Illinois has been a gaming forefather since 1990 as the second state to legalize riverboat gambling when it passed the Riverboat Gambling Act. As a result, Illinois has been able to earn millions of dollars for the state, while adding new sources of income for local businesses and communities.

As a leader in the nation, Illinois took another leap toward mass expansion in July of 2009 when the Video Gaming Act was passed, allowing the placement of Video Gaming Terminals (VGTs) in truck stops, restaurants, and other entertainment venues. Since 2009, the gaming industry has grown significantly with the rise in VGT players.

Interested in VGTs for your business? Here are some quick facts to know:

  • To host VGTs, you must obtain licensure from the Illinois Gaming Board (IGB).
  • There are different laws regarding taxes across the state, so you’ll want to be well informed as to what laws apply to your particular location and type of establishment.
  • Including gaming in your establishment or opening a gaming cafe can take time–it’s best to plan early.

When it comes to getting the most from gaming revenue, the right operator is everything. Contact us today and we’ll help you get started the right way.

Current State of Gaming Revenue in Illinois

Not only have VGTs grown in popularity, they’ve also become a massive revenue stream in Illinois. Illinois Policy confirmed that “[VGTs] have nearly doubled from $395 million in revenue during 2019 to $762 million in 2022.” Even during 2020, when the world took a pause, VGTs continued to bring in millions of dollars.

According to Market Watch “the global Video Gaming Terminals (VGT) market reached a value of USD $845.89 million in 2022.” To give some perspective, the casino market in Illinois has been down $200m since 2012 while VGTs have soared in profit.

All of this is to say that Illinois has already seen a revenue boom in the gaming space, and there’s no sign of it slowing down. 

With new legislation supporting the industry every year, the market is ripe with opportunities for any variety of businesses looking to enter the space, or expand into new markets. Below is a list of some of the industries that have been able to take advantage of VGT gaming in Illinois in recent years:

  • Bars
  • Restaurants
  • Hotels
  • Gas stations
  • Liquor stores
  • Convenience stores
  • Nightclubs
  • Truck stops
  • Taverns
  • Fraternal organizational meeting venues/places
  • Veteran organizational meeting venues/places

Factors Driving Gaming Revenue Growth

Video gaming terminals and gaming in Illinois has grown in popularity due to several factors. 

  1. Given the revenue potential of this industry, there has been a steady increase in licenses granted, new establishments built, and renovations to existing businesses to accommodate this growing opportunity. In turn, state offices are proud to report high revenue returns, which has led to increased legislative support across regulatory agencies. This virtuous cycle of business investment and state support has kept the industry moving forward.
  1. Since the COVID 19 pandemic and its widespread impact on people’s social lives, communities have been looking for new reasons to get out of the house and meet with friends at their favorite local establishments. By providing safe and welcoming environments with VGTs, businesses are able to fulfill the communal need to come together, while adding much-needed supplemental income to overcome the initial, devastating impact of the pandemic.
  1. Video gaming terminals have grown in popularity for their portability, easy updates and repairs, and their user-friendly interfaces. In short, VGTs offer an approachable way for both businesses and players to enjoy the benefits of gaming.  

Economic Impact of Gaming Revenue

The economic impact of gaming in Illinois is impossible to deny. 

Local businesses are thriving once again with new revenue and increased foot traffic brought by the inclusion of VGTs. Bars, restaurants and other establishments have been able to reinvest revenues into other areas of their business to keep the momentum going–like renovations and new products or services–and in some cases, start new businesses altogether. Gaming cafes, for example, have opened new opportunities for business owners to expand. 

But it’s not just business owners who are feeling the positive impacts of gaming. The surging popularity of gaming and VGTs in Illinois has resulted in a large increase in tax dollars collected–benefiting local communities with increased development and infrastructure projects to support the players’ lives at home as well.

The gaming industry provides tangible benefits for all kinds of people–whether it’s to cool off after work or more money allocated toward their childrens’ schools.

Challenges and Concerns

While there is immense financial benefit to communities as a whole for the revenue earned and taxes that feed back into the community, there is a potential for individual failure. While gambling can become a habit, the gaming space has taken a strong stance on creating safe, respectful, and ethical environments. 

Gaming operators and new establishment owners looking to reap the benefits of the gaming industry should continue upholding the values of the community by creating a responsible environment and providing resources to those who might develop unhealthy habits.

Future Outlook for Illinois Gaming Revenue

The future of the gaming industry in Illinois is bright. Not only is the state of Illinois continuing to support the industry and local businesses, new players are showing interest in gaming all the time. For example, Gen Z and millennials have begun to enter the market, with a few unique and some surprising traits and characteristics that businesses should consider:

  1. Younger generations have shown a preference for in person gaming
  2. They are quick to understand new games
  3. They are always looking for updates and new games to play
  4. They respond well to loyalty programs and other digital touch points alongside their physical gaming experience

Across all gaming audiences, staying ahead of player’s behaviors and preferences will keep interest high and revenue growing. According to Forbes, omnichannel gaming is the best way to keep audiences attracted to your experience by offering in-person and digital touch points. Some ways to introduce digital elements to the player environment might be creating ongoing digital communications (such as email), social media engagement, and/or rewards systems.

Regardless, the next generation of players is ready to play. They want places to spend time with friends, play games that entertain them, and even give them the opportunity to win cash and prizes. VGTs provide that.

Maintaining the Future of Illinois Gaming

Illinois gaming revenue has emerged as a significant contributor to the state’s economy, generating substantial funds and supporting various sectors. The expansion of gaming establishments and the popularity of video gaming terminals have played a crucial role in driving revenue growth. 

As the industry continues to evolve, it is essential to strike a balance between economic benefits and social responsibility to ensure sustainable growth and maximize the positive impacts on the local communities. 

One thing is certain–businesses and players alike are finding the expansion of gaming to be a welcome development.


  1. How much gaming revenue does Illinois generate?
  • Illinois gaming revenue has been steadily increasing, with billions of dollars generated annually. The exact figures can vary from year to year based on various factors, including the number of gaming establishments and the level of activity.
  1. How is gaming revenue utilized in Illinois?
  • Gaming revenue in Illinois is allocated to various purposes, including supporting the state’s budget, funding education, infrastructure projects, and initiatives to benefit local communities.
  1. Are there any restrictions on gaming in Illinois?
  • While Illinois has expanded its gaming options in recent years, there are still regulations in place to ensure responsible gambling practices. This includes age restrictions, limits on bet amounts, and measures to prevent gambling addiction. The state has different laws than individual cities, so it’s best to verify your localized laws regarding VGTs.
  1. What is the economic impact of gaming revenue in Illinois?
  • The gaming industry in Illinois has a significant economic impact, creating jobs, stimulating tourism, and benefiting local businesses. Additionally, gaming revenue contributes to the state’s tax revenue and supports community development projects.
  1. What are the potential risks associated with gaming revenue?
  • Some concerns associated with gaming revenue include the potential for gambling addiction, the need for responsible gambling measures, and the challenges of regulating the industry effectively. It is important to address these concerns to ensure a balanced and sustainable gaming industry.

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