Elgin casino marks 25th anniversary with promotions, 'new projects' to come
Grand Victoria Casino in Elgin marks its 25th anniversary Sunday and is offering a host of promotions this month, including gourmet cookware giveaways, half-off dining vouchers, free cash play and a $5,000 cash drawing Oct. 25.
The casino was bought last year by Eldorado Resorts Inc., which has 26 properties in 12 states. The casino's new general manager, John Koster, said Eldorado is poised to become the country's largest casino gambling entity next year with its anticipated acquisition of Caesars Entertainment.
"Becoming a part of Eldorado Resorts, Inc. has afforded Grand Victoria access to resources and efficiencies that help us better meet our guests' needs," Koster said.
Grand Victoria and the other nine casinos in Illinois will have to navigate a massive expansion of gambling signed into law in July by Gov. J.B. Pritzker. That includes six new casinos, legalized sports betting and the possibility of expansion for the existing casinos.
The Elgin casino opened to the public Oct. 6, 1994, fours years after Illinois allowed riverboat gambling, and since then has provided about $400 million in revenue to the city. The money has funded the revitalization of downtown and capital projects such as the The Centre of Elgin and two city golf courses and has provided public funds for neighborhood initiatives and local nonprofits.
The city's share of annual casino revenue peaked at $29.5 million in 2001 and has been steadily declining since 2007. Revenue for this year is estimated at $11 million. The casino had to contend with competition from Rivers Casino in Des Plaines, which opened in 2011, and legalization of video gambling in 2012. It employs 637 people, down from about 800 five years ago and more than 2,500 when it opened.
Eldorado Resorts implemented some cost-cutting measures at the Elgin casino, such as fewer hours at Indulge Buffet and Prime BurgerHouse and eliminating the Fourth of July concert and the food truck festival in August.
"Like any business, we are always looking for ways to optimize our operations and sustain a competitive relevance in this highly competitive market," Koster said. "However, we remain committed to our guests, our team members, and to the community -- the city of Elgin, Kane County, and the state of Illinois."
He expressed optimism about what's ahead but didn't disclose details.
"We are exploring some exciting new projects to make the Grand Victoria experience even better," he said.
Koster said the casino will continue to contribute 20% of its net operating income -- 12.5% to the Grand Victoria Foundation and 7.5% to Kane County's Grand Victoria riverboat fund. "We remain the only casino in Illinois that gives back, at this level, to its host city and the state of Illinois," he said.
Elgin Mayor David Kaptain praised that, saying the foundation has an enormous positive contribution. As for the new casino ownership, the city is establishing a working relationship with Koster, with whom he's met three or four times, Kaptain said.
Despite cutbacks and declining revenues, what matters is that the casino remains in Elgin, Kaptain said.
"They are committed to stay here. That was one of the first concerns for me when they took over," he said. "Everybody (in the casino industry) is having the same discussion and trying to find the best direction to move forward."