Joliet casino revenues still in decline
By Bob Okon firstname.lastname@example.org March 7, 2012 8:50PM
JOLIET CASINO TAXES
2012 City of Joliet Budget Estimate: down $500,000 from 2011.
February: down $74,000 from February 2011.
Year-to-Date: down $365,000 from 2011.
Updated: April 10, 2012 11:18AM
JOLIET — Joliet casino revenues continued to decline in February, and the amount of local taxes they produced again lagged behind what is expected in the city’s budget.
The local casino numbers stabilized a bit. Harrah’s Joliet was less than 1 percent behind its revenues of February 2011, according to a monthly report released Wednesday by the Illinois Gaming Board. But Hollywood Joliet was down nearly 10 percent from a year ago.
The two casinos together generated $74,000 less in local casino taxes than in February 2011. That’s better than January when Joliet casino revenue was so low that it set off alarm bells at City Hall. In January alone casino taxes were down by nearly $300,000. The city’s 2012 budget was balanced with an estimated $500,000 drop-off in casino taxes.
“We’re not happy about the downward trend,” said Kenneth Mihelich, the city’s budget director. However, he noted that the latest numbers were “definitely much better” than January and city officials would continue to keep an eye on casino revenues.
Casino revenue in Joliet, Aurora and Elgin has been down since Rivers Casino opened in the summer in Des Plaines and took away business from its older competitors in the Chicago market.
Hollywood Joliet has become the lowest money-maker in the Chicago region. In February, Hollywood Joliet generated $11.1 million.
Meanwhile, Harrah’s Joliet is coming close to passing the Grand Victoria in Elgin. The Elgin casino is the closest competitor to the new casino in Des Plaines. In February, Harrah’s Joliet generated $18.8 million, which compares with the Grand Victoria’s $19.4 million.
Hollywood Aurora, the other older casino in the Chicago market, had $13.4 million in gambling revenue in February. Unlike its sister casino in Joliet, Hollywood Aurora came close to matching its February 2011 numbers.
The ability of Harrah’s Joliet and Hollywood Aurora to come close to year-ago numbers may show that they are bringing back business lost when Rivers Casino opened.
Rivers is so far ahead of the other casinos in the Chicago market that its February revenue was nearly twice that of the closest competitor. Rivers generated $37.5 million for the month.