Located south of Burger King in Oglesby’s industrial park are five of Oglesby’s active slot machines.
P.J.’s Lucky Dollar, a bar and gaming spot built onto the front of a body shop, was opened about three years ago. It might not be the most conventional spot for a tavern, but the business continues to earn revenue for the city of Oglesby, which had one of the biggest net gains over its 2017 gaming totals compared to other municipalities in the Illinois Valley.
“We didn’t really expect it to take off like it has,” said Karla Olson, an employee at P.J.’s Lucky Dollar.
Video gambling had another banner year in the Illinois Valley and across the state in 2018. The revenues made from the ever-expanding market hit new heights again as video gaming searches for its tipping point. Gaming first started in Illinois in September 2012.
About $42.7 million was played in machines in La Salle, Bureau and Putnam counties. That’s up from 2017’s total of $38.1 million — or about a 12.2 percent increase. That’s the biggest jump in revenue the area has seen since 2015.
As a whole, Illinois’ video gaming industry grew to just under $1.5 billion in 2018, up from $1.3 billion in 2017.
Overall, the numbers continue to trend upward, but not all towns in the area were part of that increase. Here is how the numbers break down. (Data is provided by the Illinois Gaming Board)
Who showed growth?
Arlington, Cedar Point, Cherry, DePue, Earlville, Granville, Hennepin, Hollowayville, Kangley, Ladd, LaMoille, La Salle, Leland, Leonore, Manlius, Mark, Marseilles, Mendota, Mineral, Oglesby, Ohio, Ottawa, Peru, Princeton, Sheffield, Sheridan, Spring Valley, Streator, Tiskilwa, Tonica, Utica, Walnut, Wyanet
Who did not show growth?
Buda, Bureau County, Bureau Junction, Dalzell, La Salle County, Lostant, Magnolia, McNabb, Naplate, Neponset, Putnam County, Ransom, Seneca, Standard, Troy Grove
Total played in each county
La Salle County — $35,116,667
Bureau County — $6,828,828
Putnam County — $741,944
Note: Putnam County showed about a 5.2 percent increase from 2017, Bureau County showed a 9.5 percent increase and La Salle County showed a 12.9 percent increase. Numbers account for the net terminal income from all machines in the respective county.
Top earning municipalities in La Salle County
Ottawa — $382,805.21
Streator — $274,623.98
Peru — $244,923.34
La Salle — $186,161.89
La Salle County — $169,558.38
Note: La Salle County’s numbers account for all machines not within the limits of a city or village. In past years, La Salle County was sitting in the three spot among top earners, but after losing some of its top earning locations — such as Road Ranger after it was annexed by Ottawa — Peru and La Salle were able to jump ahead.
Top earning municipalities in Bureau County
Princeton — $140,433.72
Spring Valley — $59,329.27
Ladd — $18,940.50
Walnut — $15,496.09
DePue — $15,000.00
Note: Not much change here other than Walnut leapfrogging DePue for the fourth spot. The five biggest communities by population in Bureau County are the top earners.
Top earning municipalities in Putnam County
Granville — $11,316.19
Hennepin — $8,550.61
Mark — $7,753.63
McNabb — $3,229.75
Magnolia — $3,160.41
Note: Revenue in Magnolia dwindled and they dropped a spot to McNabb. Otherwise, positions stayed the same.
Biggest net gains from 2017 totals
Ottawa — $105,641.43
Peru — $45,531.76
Streator — $26,260.55
Mendota — $19,977.06
Oglesby — $12,506.58
Note: Ottawa earned a lot of extra cash after annexing one of the area’s top earning locations, the Road Ranger at Interstate 80 and Route 71. All five listed had more active machines in 2018 than they did in 2017. However, Peru earned the extra cash with 125 machines in 2018 compared to 124 in 2017.
Biggest net losses from 2017 totals
La Salle County — $34,536.81
Dalzell — $5,393.38
Naplate — $2,632.56
Magnolia — $2,164.92
Seneca — $1,925.72
Note: Again, La Salle County loses when other municipalities annex businesses into their respective city or village limits. Dalzell lost its lone restaurant with video gaming in March. And Naplate has been showing a decline since the tornado in 2016.
Top earning months
March — $4,098,689
December — $3,812,885
April — $3,738,776
August — $3,642,145
October — $3,539,674
Note: March continues to be the month to gamble in the Illinois Valley and across the state. The month has been the most active for the area and the entire state for the past three years. And March 2018 was the only time ever the Illinois Valley broke the $4 million mark. All figures exceed the 2017 record of $3,539,256 earned in March.
Total active machines in the Illinois Valley by year
2018 — 1,351
2017 — 1,274
2016 — 1,134
2015 — 1,002
2014 — 883
Note: Numbers reflect any machine that was active at any point during the calendar year. There was about a 6 percent increase in the number of machines in 2018, which is the smallest percentage increase the area has seen so far.
Who earned what?
State’s share — $375,001,592.40
Local government’s share — $75,000,197.78
Establishments’ share — $524,995,455.54
Terminal operators’ share — $524,995,455.54
Note: The state earmarks its gaming revenue to pay off debt on bonds that were used for capital projects about a decade ago. The total amount going back to local municipalities is 5 percent of the revenue and towns spend the money differently. The establishments that earn profits are restaurants, bars, gaming parlors, convenience stores, truck stops and fraternal organizations. And the terminal operators distribute and maintain the machines for the establishments. Lattner Entertainment Group was the only local terminal operator, but they sold for $100 million to a Las Vegas gaming corporation in May.