Video Gaming Terminals Coming To An Illinois Fair Near You — Next Year

Posted on July 9, 2020 - Last Updated on July 6, 2020

Video gaming is coming to Illinois fairs, but we won’t see it in action until 2021.

Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker signed SB 516 into law last week, which will allow for video gaming terminals (VGTs) at the Springfield and Du Quoin state fairgrounds.

But both fairs are canceled this summer due to the COVID-19 pandemic. So, Illinoisans will have to wait another year before they can enjoy them.

Once they can, the bill allows for as many as 30 VGTs at the Du Quoin State Fair and 50 at the Illinois State Fair.

The Illinois Department of Agriculture (IDOA) will choose three terminal operators licensed by the Illinois Gaming Board, and they’ll operate for three years.

It’s good news for patrons and it’s good news for the state, but to what extent?

State rep pours cold water on expectations

Rep. Tim Butler (R-Springfield) was a major proponent of adding VGTs to state fairs; however, he does not expect them to be a cash driver.

“I have not seen any hard data on what exactly that could bring in potentially,” Butler told the State-Journal Register in 2019.

“It’s not going to be a huge sum of money. While you’re talking 50 machines, you’re only talking the 10-day run of the fair.”

The terminals will be in the beer tents, Butler said, as you have to be 21 years or older. All proceeds will be deposited into the State Fairgrounds Capital Improvements and Harness Racing Fund.

Chicago casino implications of SB 516

The bill also makes Chicago’s downtown casino project more feasible by amending its tax code, a potential boon to the Illinois economy for years to come.

“Thousands of Illinoisans will be working on these projects, earning a good living that will support their families as we do the important work of rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure and investing in the future,” Pritzker said to The Lansing Journal.

The legislation finalizes Illinois’ gaming package.

The casino project has gotten off to a rocky start to say the least. There has been plenty of arguing over taxes and zero consensus on a location. However, SB 516 provides new “privilege tax” schedules specifically for the Chicago casino, which should expedite the process.

Here is the updated Chicago casino tax schedule, courtesy of The Lansing Journal.

Chicago casino tax schedule

Slots

Adjusted Gross RevenueStateCityTotal
$0-$25 million12%10.5%22.5%
$25 million-$50 million16%14%30%
$50 million-$75 million20.1%17.4%37.5%
$75 million-$100 million21.4%18.6%40%
$100 million-$150 million22.7%19.8%42.5%
$150 million-$225 million24.1%20.9%45%
$225 million-$1 billion26.8%23.2%50%
$1 billion+40%34.7%74.7%

Table games

Adjusted Gross RevenueStateCityTotal
$0-$25 million8.1%6.9%15%
$25 million-$75 million10.7%8.4%19.1%
$75 million-$175 million11.2%9.8%21%
$175 million-$225 million13.5%11.5%25%
$225 million-$275 million15.1%12.9%28%
$275 million-$375 million16.2%13.8%30%
$375 million+18.9%16.1%35%

The rates are mostly in line with the figures reported in May, with a slight change to the highest table game revenues. While the rates themselves aren’t much different from when the tax code was effectively a death sentence for the project, the graduated tier thresholds are.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said:

“The Chicago casino has now become law, paving the way for a transformative new funding source for Illinois’ infrastructure, as well as helping shore up Chicago’s own significant pension obligations, in addition to serving as the impetus for a dynamic new entertainment district in our city.”

Last time the State Fair didn’t happen? During World War II

That’s right; the Springfield State Fair has been a yearly occurrence since 1945.

Furthermore, the Illinois State Fair saw 509,000 people in 2019, according to the IDOA.

Butler believed the fair could have happened with social distancing measures and limited capacity.

“I think the potential existed to think of this in another way, but the avenue was never there from the governor’s operation to have those discussions,” Butler told the Chicago Sun-Times.

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Joe Boozell

Joe Boozell has also been a college sports writer for NCAA.com since 2015. His work has also appeared in Bleacher Report, FoxSports.com and NBA.com. Growing up, Boozell squared off against both Anthony Davis and Frank Kaminsky in the Chicagoland basketball scene ... you can imagine how that went.

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