A new report from the Illinois Gaming Machine Operators Association suggests Evanston is losing more than a half million dollars a year in tax revenue because of its ban on video gaming machines.
While the city has long come to terms with Demon Rum and anticipates taking in nearly $2.5 million in liquor tax revenue this year, the aldermen showed no inclination in 2009 to take a risk on Lady Luck.
Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl, the city’s liquor commissioner, said she doubted the city would make much money on gambling, and added “the social consequences would be devastating.”
Since then the number of muncipalities around the state that alow video gaming has grown from 288 when the first video gaming terminals went into operation to 899 at the end of 2014. That leaves just 400 communities that don’t allow gaming — with the City of Chicago being the biggest holdout.
The new study — conducted by Union Gaming Analytics — projects that if all the communities that now ban video gaming opted in, local tax revenue from the machines would total $118.8 million a year by 2020, compared to $49.4 million a year if no additional communities join.
Based on Evanston’s population as a percentage of the state’s total population, that would work out to roughly $692,000 a year in new revenue for Evanston.
The reports makes various assumptions about the pace at which revenue growth would slow as more communities joined the program and the market for video gaming came closer to saturation.
It also claims that sales tax revenue from eating and drinking places has increased in communities that have legalized video gaming.