A report by Union Gaming Analytics found that adding airport slots would bring in a significant revenue increase to Illinois. The study reportedly determined that adding slots to the Chicago Midway International Airport and O’Hare International Airport could bring in US$18.5 million a year. The estimated figure was determined by looking at adding 500 slots between the two airports.
Additionally, the report also states that having 500 slots at these airports would bring net revenues of about $36.5 million into the state’s coffers.
Airport Slots in Illinois Would Make Much More than Nevada
Furthermore, the state-sanctioned report claims that Illinois would make much more than the slots at Nevada’s two major airports in Las Vegas and Reno. Currently, these are the only two airports in the United States that offer slots. McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas (with 1,475 slots) and Reno-Tahoe International Airport (with 240 slots) make only $151 a day. This is considered to be well below the earning average for a slot machine in Nevada.
But the airport slots that will be placed in the two Chicago airports, Union Gaming Analytics estimates, could earn US$200 a day.
Aim to Attract the “Captive Audience”
Between O’Hare and Midway, these airports had around 50.7 million travelers passing through last year compared to Nevada’s 25.7 million. The airport slots aim to draw these tourists i.e. the “captive audience” looking to kill time. The function, the report reads, for the airport slots is to be “namely as an option for some travelers to pass the time”.
“Ultimately, slot machines at Chicago airports should perform notably better than those in Nevada’s airports. As such, greater total revenues and taxes would be achieved by [allocating] a few hundred slot machines to Midway and O’Hare airports,” Union Gaming Analytics’ report reads.
Strict Legislation in Place to Prevent Turning Airports into “Gambling Dens”
In order for an operator to set up airport slot machines in Illinois, they will first have to meet legislative mandates set in the recently signed expanded gaming legislation. Therefore, in order to receive the only license, the applying operator will have to be running a downtown Chicago casino and accept a 72% tax rate.
However, stakeholders in the industry have concerns that this rate is too high. Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot says that she is working to find a solution. Lightfoot says that the plan isn’t to change the two airports into “gambling dens”. “We haven’t set the parameters yet but there is going to be a very, very high hurdle reached before we see any gaming at our airports. We are not going to turn Chicago into a location that’s unrecognizable from where we are,” she said.