Illinois rakes in millions in revenue from video game gambling

Cities like Milan see tens of thousands in profits

MILAN, Ill. - Illinois Gaming Board's video gaming records start in 2012. 

That year the state brought in more than three million dollars. 

The revenue jumped to nearly $165 million just two years later. 

That number has almost doubled between 2014 and 2017, coming in at more than $325 million last year. 

Thousands of those dollars also poured into local governments in the Quad Cities area. 

The Village of Milan brought in about $9,000 in 2013. Just four years later, the village is raking in seven times that amount. 

It can cost around 26-thousand dollars to set up a video gaming center between municipal liquor licenses, a state gaming license and buying gaming machines. 

But Bill Cox says it can pay off if you play your cards right. 

"It's profitable. It varies. Some places do 14-$15,000 a month," he says. 

Cox opened up six video gaming centers in the Quad Cities area in less than a year. 
He says small video gaming centers offer more comfort and privacy than casinos. 

"You don't have to worry about the car. They can just pull up and walk in and play and be pretty discreet and no one really knows what they're up to. I think that's a lot of what it  brings to the table," says Cox. 

There are currently 11 established video gaming centers in Milan, with three more in the process of being approved. They brought in more than $60,000 last year.

"It goes into our general funds, so that's available for police protection, it's available for general operations of the city," says Mark Hunt, Milan's finance & economic director. 

Hunt says the video gaming industry has grown more than anyone expected.
Cox is currently applying to open up another center in Milan. 

"The numbers of locations are growing dramatically. It seems like all of them are making their mark and you don't hear about them closing, so that's a good sign on my end," Cox says. 

But cashing in is causing some concerns. 

"The saturation is kind of getting to a lot of people on the street, I know that. But that's just a part of doing business, so I guess we'll have to see how it all plays out," says Cox. 

Some customers also have concerns about the number of gaming centers popping up. 

They say they hope the city puts a cap on how many machines are allowed in city limits. 

Milan's finance director says right now, there aren't any policy changes.

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