SPRINGFIELD -- After its first full calendar year of operation, the Rivers Casino in Des Plaines remains at the top of the Illinois gambling scene with revenues nearly double those of the next-highest grossing casino.
The casino collected $416 million from gamblers in 2012, according to the Illinois Gaming Board.
2012 Illinois casino revenue1. Rivers Casino, Des Plaines, $416.7 million
2. Grand Victoria Casino, Elgin, $212.4 million
3. Harrah's Casino, Joliet, $212.1 million
4. Hollywood Casino, Aurora, $151.9 million
5. Hollywood Casino, Joliet, $141.5 million
6. Casino Queen, East St. Louis, $131.2 million
7. Par-A-Dice Hotel Casino, East Peoria, $116.3 million
8. Harrah's Metropolis, Metropolis, $97.7 million
9. Jumer's Casino & Hotel, Rock Island, $87.9 million
10. Argosy Casino, Alton, $71.0 million
Source: Illinois Gaming Board
But Rivers' gains may have come at a cost to its suburban casino rivals. The Grand Victoria Casino in Elgin grossed more than $212 million and the Hollywood Casino in Aurora generated nearly $152 million, but those amounts have fallen steadily from the previous two years.
Compared to 2011, revenue dropped 17.5 percent for the Grand Victoria and 12.1 percent for the Hollywood Casino.
That continues a steady decline. The Grand Victoria has seen a 26.1 percent drop in revenues since 2010, and Hollywood has seen 16.6 percent less since that year.
State Rep. Marty Moylan, who was Des Plaines' mayor until Dec. 31, attributed the Rivers Casino's success to a mix of quality, location and novelty. The casino, which opened in July 2011, is near O'Hare International Airport and Rosemont's entertainment amenities.
Rivers has had a revenue bump often afforded to new casinos that Moylan hopes the owners can maintain through fresh advertising and amenities.
"Hopefully our casino will keep changing with the times," Moylan, a Democrat, said.
In addition to having the highest revenue in the state, Rivers tallied the most admissions in 2012 with nearly 4 million people. Elgin fell to second place, tallying just over 1.6 million, a drop of half a million people since it welcomed 2.1 million in 2010.
"There has been a backlash on the existing casinos," said Tom Swoik, director of the Illinois Casino Gaming Association, which represents both the Rivers and Hollywood casinos.
But he said the economy and a 2008 statewide indoor smoking ban have also hurt local casinos.
Swoik cited the 52 percent drop in revenue experienced by Grand Victoria since 2007 as an indication that the public began turning away from Elgin's casino long before Rivers' opening.
Riding on Rivers' success, the state in 2012 took in $75 million more in gambling taxes than it did in 2011. The state's haul increased 15.8 percent from $401 million in 2011 to $476 million in 2012.
But in the same way that Rivers Casino could be siphoning revenue off its suburban competitors, any new casinos could similarly hurt the Des Plaines casino's revenues. Lawmakers could debate plans this year to add more casinos, possibly including casinos in Chicago and Lake County as well as up to 1,200 slot machines at Arlington Park.
In fact, legislation that would expand gambling is on its way to Gov. Pat Quinn's desk because of a procedural quirk. Lawmakers approved the plan in 2011, but Senate President John Cullerton only Tuesday decided to send it to Quinn.
Quinn blasted the legislation in 2011, so his signature is unlikely.
"As the governor has repeatedly made clear, he will not approve any legislation that does not include strong ethics protections for the people of Illinois," Quinn spokeswoman Brooke Anderson said.