Illinois Online Casinos Key To Attracting Twentysomethings

Written By Matt Boecker on January 30, 2023
A sustainable future for gambling revenue requires offering Illinois online casinos on mobile devices popular with younger people.

The most obvious benefit of legalizing online casinos in Illinois is the tax revenue it would generate. But it would also help sustain the retail casino industry for years to come.

Online casinos, also known as iGaming aren’t yet accessible in the Land of Lincoln. Legislation to make it legal was first presented in 2021, but it hasn’t gotten the green light yet. However, there is a strong belief that 2023 will be the year that changes.

PlayIllinois crunched the numbers and calculated the state stands to make $105 million in annual tax revenue from online casinos. What’s equally as important is the audience iGaming would cater to.

Young people are addicted to their phones

The next time you go out in public, keep an eye on how many 20 to 30 year olds you see glued to their phones.

Whether it’s text messaging, TikTok, sending a Tweet, or browsing a sports betting app, the younger generation is addicted to their mobile devices. In some severe cases, they may not be able to function if they don’t have their phone with them 24/7.

iPhone users are familiar with the screen time report Apple sends out every Sunday. It provides a summary of how much time you spent looking at your phone in the last week, breaking down which apps you used the most. As a 24-year-old, I can attest that my weekly screen time report is higher than I’d like to admit.

Bringing iGaming to Illinois would be perfect for the younger generation as they’re already on their phone frequently. It’s far more likely for a person in their 20s or 30s to play table games on their phone than it is for them to make the trek to a brick-and-mortar casino.

Of course, responsible gambling is an important part of equation. Gamblers need to set limits and Illinois would be wise to invest more in problem gambling prevention and treatment.

Illinois online casinos could drive traffic to retail casinos

Most of the guests at in-person casinos are 40 or older. The people in that age range grew up in a time when casino gaming and sports betting was only available at retail locations.

In 10 years, that demographic will grow older and likely spend less time in casinos. So, if iGaming is introduced in Illinois, it could expose a younger generation to the fun that can be had playing table games.

Also, companies are always trying to target the 21 to 30 year old age range because they’re a demographic that will be loyal customers for years to come. It’s no different in the gaming industry.

iGaming won’t cannibalize in-person casinos

There’s a school of thought that online casinos would make brick and mortar locations obsolete. In reality, there’s no evidence to back up that claim. In fact, iGaming and retail casinos actually compliment each other.

For example, online poker was wildly popular from 2004 to 2011. As a result, bettors wanted to try their luck in-person. And the number of retail poker rooms grew in casinos across the country. Plus, entrants into the World Series of Poker Main Event grew by over 8,000 after that same period of time.

Retail casinos are also viewed as a social event to spend time with family and friends. iGaming may be more convenient, but it will never be able to match the perks of going to an in-person casino.

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Matt Boecker

Matt Boecker is a 2020 graduate of Northern Illinois University hailing from Chicago. Boecker specializes in coverage of sports betting and legalization. Former teammates and coworkers describe him as a nice guy who tries hard and loves the game.

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