This month has so far been marked by upbeat revenue reporting from casinos across the country, but one region saw a string of winter weather put a big dent in December’s earnings. According to the Chicago Tribune, the region’s 5 casinos saw their December revenue fall by more than 10% from the year before. This is a large decrease, but according to industry experts it has a lot less to do with a deficiency on the part of the casinos’ and more to do with inclimate weather that kept potential patrons indoors.
While it is common for people to hone in on one month’s revenue figures and use that small sample to make an overarching opinion about the state of the industry in a particular region, it is important we do not do that in this case. For Chicago’s casinos, the 11.6% drop in revenue experienced in December is in no way reflective of how the year, as a whole, went.
Was 2016 a great year for Chicago casinos? The answer to that is no. But in the same breath, it must be mentioned that revenues from January of 2016 to December of 2016 fell by only 2.8% when compared to 2015.
Something else that did not help the casinos’ revenues at all was the fact that both New Year’s and Christmas eves fell on Saturday nights. Instead of seeing the large number of patrons that is typical of a Saturday night a Chicago casino, prospective patrons were instead with their families or ringing in the New Year elsewhere. If you add to that mix the fact that it snowed in the Chicago area the two weekends preceding the Christmas holiday, the more than 11% revenue decline begins to make a bit more sense.
As for the annual decline, however, that is something that must be further researched a bit more closely. As casinos in neighboring states begin to make their presence known, people who would have otherwise traveled to casinos in Chicago are instead turning to sites located closer to where they live. For some people, this means that they stayed out of Illinois entirely.
Despite what can be interpreted as negative talking points marring the 2016 calendar year for Chicago casinos and casinos in Illinois as a whole, everyone is excited for 2017. With the US economy performing better now than it has in the past few years, more households have disposable income. For casinos, the existence of more and more disposable income is always a good thing. What will be interesting to see is whether or not improved economic conditions for US households will mean improved revenues for casinos from Illinois, Chicago, and the US as a whole. Donald Trump is about to assume the role of President of the United States. This is seen as a positive for the casino industry, so it will also be interesting to see if this new, unprecedented presidency brings about any positive changes for the casino industry in Illinois and/or the rest of the United States.