State gaming board: gaming saturation close

Illinois may be getting close to gambling saturation, according to the administrator for the Illinois Gaming Board.

During testimony last week on the proposed fiscal year 2017 budget for the Illinois Gaming Board, Administrator Mark Ostrowski said that in addition to the 10 licensed casinos, there are more than 5,320 locations operating 22,620 video gaming terminals.

Ostrowski said all the video gaming terminals combined make Illinois the largest video gaming jurisdiction in the world.

“We are bigger than the state of Nevada. We are bigger than any other countries in the world,” Ostrowski said.

Meanwhile Ostrowski said with the equivalent of 29 casinos operating in Illinois, the state is getting closer to a saturation point.

“I think you tend to potentially just spread revenue around versus actually increase or generate more revenue,” Ostrowski said.

Recent analysis from the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability showed an overall increase of video gaming revenue from the previous year with video gaming machines eating into riverboat activity.

Budget for gaming board includes full staffing

Despite a proposed budget that’s nearly $7 million less than the current fiscal year proposed budget, the Illinois Gaming Board expects to be fully staffed in fiscal 2017.

The Illinois Gaming Board is responsible for reviewing casino, riverboat and video gaming licenses, investigating wrongdoing and issuing disciplinary action to gambling outlets. Ostrowski said last week that the proposed budget for the coming fiscal year is about $154 million, a decrease of nearly $7 million — or 4.3 percent down — from the request levels for FY16.

Ostrowski said with 10 casinos that operate around the clock and more than 5,300 video gaming locations, it’s crucial to be fully staffed

“It is a tall task, to say the least, for us to be able to get to all of these locations and try to provide proper law enforcement oversight,” Ostrowski said.

He added that the proposed budget allows for full staffing.

–Greg Bishop, Illinois News Network

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