Small-But-Mighty Caesars Illinois Casino Punching Above Its Weight Class

Written By C.J. Pierre on August 23, 2023

It isn’t quite “The Little Engine That Could,” but it is an impressive feat nonetheless. There are 13 casinos currently open in the state of Illinois. However, the Grand Victoria Casino, which is in the lower half in terms of sheer size, is near the top in almost every category that really matters in the state.

The riverboat-style casino sits along the Fox River in Elgin. The venue opened in 1994 and has slowly but surely become one of Illinois’ most popular casinos.

As more and more casinos are headed into the Illinois market, some might believe Grand Victoria will fall back to the lower end of the pack. However, this is no underdog story.

Rolando Guerrero, the vice president and general manager of Grand Victoria Casino, told PlayIllinois they have everything they need to stay near the top. Guerrero said Grand Victoria has been a staple in the local community for many years. He also said they focus on making sure that they are running promotions and events that are geared towards their customer base.

“We rely on the fact that we’re very well entrenched in the community,” said Guerrero. “We know our business and our business is gaming.”

Grand Victoria is the #2 casino in Illinois

The numbers don’t lie. Grand Victoria Casino ranks second among all other Illinois casinos. Furthermore, it is firmly secure in that position.

PlayIllinois took a look at the year-to-date casino numbers from the Illinois Gaming Board through July and came up with a monthly average for total adjusted gross revenue and attendance for all 13 physical casinos. Grand Victoria Casino ranks second in revenue and second in attendance.

Illinois casinos ranked by average monthly gross adjusted revenue in 2023:

  1. Rivers Casino — $45.5 million
  2. Grand Victoria Casino — $12.6 million
  3. Harrah’s Joliet Casino & Hotel — $11 million
  4. Hollywood Casino Aurora — $8.3 million
  5. Hollywood Casino Joliet — $7.7 million
  6. The Temporary by American Place — $7.5 million
  7. DraftKings at Casino Queen — $6.8 million
  8. Hard Rock Rockford — $5.6 million
  9. Harrah’s Metropolis Casino — $5.5 million
  10. Par-A-Dice Hotel Casino — $5.46 million
  11. Bally’s Quad Cities Casino & Hotel — $5 million
  12. Argosy Casino Alton — $2.9 million
  13. Golden Nugget Danville — $2.45 million

Illinois casinos ranked by average monthly attendance in 2023:

  1. Rivers Casino — 251,700
  2. Grand Victoria Casino — 77,578
  3. The Temporary by American Place — 70,107
  4. Hollywood Casino Aurora — 69,786
  5. DraftKings at Casino Queen — 68295
  6. Harrah’s Joliet Casino & Hotel — 60,893
  7. Bally’s Quad Cities Casino & Hotel — 59,603
  8. Hollywood Casino Joliet — 56,174
  9. Hard Rock Rockford — 49,845
  10. Par-A-Dice Hotel Casino — 37,024
  11. Golden Nugget Danville — 36,591
  12. Harrah’s Metropolis Casino — 35,911
  13. Argosy Casino Alton — 34,073

Grand Victoria is holding down the No. 2 spot, despite being the fifth smallest casino in the state in terms of square footage. With just under 30,000 square feet of gaming space, the casino is making the most of what it has to offer. It churns out more revenue than six other casinos that are bigger in size.

There are over 1,100 slot machines, more than 40 Vegas-style table casino games and a dedicated live poker room. It also hosts a full-service Caesars sportsbook. Along with the gambling facilities, Grand Victoria is home to three restaurants and a banquet hall for all types of receptions.

Casino VP: being a part of the Caesars family is key

In August 2018, Grand Victoria was acquired by Caesars Entertainment, bringing about a partnership with one of the major powers in gambling. Guerrero said that partnership and the benefits Caesars provides to their customers has been a big part of bringing people through the doors.

“We’ve got a great connection now to Caesars Entertainment which carries the largest loyalty program in the gaming industry with Caesars Rewards,” said Guerrero. “That membership has really been a great catalyst for us and our success here.”

Grand Victoria is about a 40-minute drive away from the heart of Downtown Chicago. Guerrero doesn’t see that as a disadvantage compared to other Illinois casinos. Elgin has a population of over 100,000. However, it stretches into both Cook and Kane counties which are both in the top 5 counties in the state in terms of population. Guerrero said the casino has secured great traction in its location.

“We have a great reputation with our surrounding area,” said Guerrero. “Quite frankly, most of our players come from a 20-mile radius of where we’re at.”

Grand Victoria looks to maintain its position as a top casino in the state

There are currently 13 Illinois casinos open and more are on the way. To make sure they don’t miss too much of the action, some of them have opened up temporary locations, while permanent venues are under construction. But Grand Victoria isn’t stressing about the new competition. In fact, they are welcoming it.

“This is not new for us. I go back to the history we have here in our community,” said Guerrero. “Growth in the gaming industry has served as a boom for many of us here, whether we’re talking employees, our customers. It’s just another opportunity to solidify our standing in the community.”

There is a belief by some that riverboat casinos are part of a dying breed. Many operators are moving from water to land as gambling becomes more widely accepted in the US. We’re seeing that in Illinois with Penn Entertainment relocating its riverboat casinos in Joliet and Aurora to new land-based facilities. While others are moving away from the riverboat concept, Grand Victoria says they are sticking with what works.

“We’ve got the second most foot traffic compared to others. We recognize that we’ve got a compelling product here,” said Guerrero. “We don’t shy away from our history. We’ve got a great product. It’s a clean and safe environment for both players and our employees.”

While Guerrero says the casino feels they have a great business model, they will continue to make tweaks and adjustments moving forward. One of the events they are really excited about is the upcoming World Series of Poker Circuit Event from Nov. 9-20. It gives the casino the chance to show off its $4 million expansion that included a new poker space and the Caesars retail sportsbook.

Photo by Shutterstock
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C.J. Pierre

C.J. Pierre is a Lead Writer at Play Illinois. He has been covering news and sports for over a decade for both online and TV broadcasts. He was born and raised in Minneapolis, MN and is an alum of Minnesota State University: Moorhead. He recently dove into tribal casino and online gambling news. He also covered the launch of sports betting in Arizona. C.J. has experience as a reporter and videographer and has covered high school, college and professional sports throughout his career, most notably following Arizona Cardinals, Phoenix Suns, Minnesota Vikings and North Dakota State University football.

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