* For decades in this state, a small number of casinos had a complete, legal and state-protected monopoly on slot machine gaming. The public benefits of those monopolies have mainly been confined to a handful of communities, although the state has brought in money as well. Meanwhile, local bar owners have been hurt by the state’s smoking ban and by competition from the casinos in those areas, so legalized video poker has saved a whole lot of small business owners from ruin. Yeah, there’s some slippage at the former monopolies, but the little guys are benefiting, so I’m not sure I see a crisis or anything yet…
Tony Mossuto, owner of the Double Play Saloon in the Chicago suburb of Blue Island, said bars have struggled to cope with higher liquor taxes and a 2008 smoking ban. His five slot machines have attracted a new, older clientele that is keeping his establishment open and 10 employees working.
“It’s saved our industry,” he said.
Casino revenue in Illinois fell 5.3 percent in 2013, the first full year with the new competition. Sales fell similarly in July, marking 11 straight months of decline, according to Bloomberg Intelligence data. The first casino opened in the state in 1991.
Las Vegas-based Boyd, which owns the Par-A-Dice Hotel Casino in East Peoria, cited the burgeoning competition as one reason for a shortfall in second-quarter profit. […]
Casino operators are now focused on keeping truck stops from having more than five machines and developing restrictions that limit the competition to places like bars and social clubs.