SPRINGFIELD — A new report shows fewer gamblers spent less money at Illinois casinos in November.
The numbers, contained in a monthly revenue update issued by the Illinois Gaming Board, are adding fuel to an argument that now isn’t the right time for a massive expansion of gambling in the state.
According to the report, casino receipts fell by nearly 10 percent between October and November. The number of admissions fell by just more than 10 percent, continuing a trend dating back nearly three years.
A comparison of receipts for November 2009 and November 2010 shows receipts for the nine casinos were down by 6.3 percent, while admissions were down 9.2 percent.
The new numbers come as state lawmakers are poised to consider legislation that would add five casinos to the state’s portfolio and allow horse tracks — including the shuttered Quad-City Downs — to have slot machines.
The plan was approved in the Senate earlier this month on a 31-20 vote. Opponents of the legislation, including the Illinois Casino Gaming Association, are now focusing on killing the plan when it surfaces in the House next month.
“It just doesn’t make sense to us to do such a large expansion when the demand isn’t there,” association executive director Tom Swoik said. “Until the economy straightens out, we anticipate the downturn will continue.”
One bright spot in the report is the Jumer’s Casino & Hotel Resort in Rock Island, which showed an 11 percent increase in admissions from same time period last year.
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Casinos in East Peoria and Metropolis showed double-digit decreases in receipts. In all, the nine facilities reported having just more than 1 million visitors in November, compared to 1.1 million in November 2009.
The gambling expansion plan is being touted by supporters as a way to bring added revenue to the cash-starved state. The estimated $1 billion in additional money could help chip away at the state’s massive deficit.
In addition to adding a casino in Chicago, the proposal would bring legalized gambling to Rockford, Danville, near Waukegan and a location to be determined in Chicago’s southern suburbs.
State Sen. Terry Link, D-Waukegan, the sponsor of the legislation, could not immediately be reached for comment.
Gov. Pat Quinn has not expressed support for the plan.