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updated: 5/4/2012 4:14 PM

Rivers Casino boosts state's casino tax take

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  • The new Rivers Casino has helped boost statewide casino receipts by 20.5 percent so far this fiscal year.

       The new Rivers Casino has helped boost statewide casino receipts by 20.5 percent so far this fiscal year.
    Bill Zars | Staff Photographer

By Ryan Voyles

SPRINGFIELD -- Despite the relative success of Des Plaines' Rivers Casino so far this year, the state shouldn't expect a big bump in casino taxes, a recent report finds.

A report by the bipartisan Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability showed statewide casino receipts have increased 20.5 percent so far this fiscal year over last year, largely thanks to the Rivers Casino opening last July.

The state's take in casino taxes, however, is up only 14.3 percent. And casino taxes for schools are up 2.1 percent.

The commission cites several reasons, including a "cannibalization effect" the Rivers Casino has had on other suburban casinos.

"Des Plaines' success has been at the expense of many of the other riverboats in Illinois, especially those near the new casino in the Chicago metropolitan area," the report stated.

Receipts from both Joliet Casinos and Aurora's Hollywood Casino are down this year, but no place has been hurt like the Grand Victoria Casino in Elgin. The Grand Victoria, within 36 miles of the Rivers Casino, has seen total revenue drop 21.3 percent from last fiscal year.

And while the Rivers Casino has generated $89.6 million in total tax revenue, the money does not all go to the state. Under provisions placed on the casino license, 15 percent of its receipts are kept back for the horse racing industry. That share is estimated at $38.6 million, but the money must be released by state lawmakers before it goes to the horse racing industry.

An additional 2 percent goes to Cook County for its criminal justice system, and another 2 percent goes to Chicago State University.

"These additional distributions mean that the State Gaming Fund and its amounts transferred (to education) will receive proportionately less revenues from the Des Plaines Casino compared to the other locations," the report said.

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