Gaming revenue holding fairly steady in Sauk Valley’s biggest municipalities

Dawn Schmall of Rock Falls reacts to a win Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2024 while playing at Vegas Slots in Sterling.

The year-end numbers are in, and they show that video gaming has remained fairly steady in Lee, Ogle and Whiteside counties over the last two calendar years.

Per the terms of the Video Gaming Act, which took effect in September 2012, 29% of net terminal income – the money put into a machine minus the player’s payout – is distributed to the state, and 5% to the local municipality.

Each establishment can have up to six video gaming terminals.

Most of the remaining 66% is divided equally between the terminal operator (which owns, leases and places the machines in the various locations), and the locations themselves.

(The company Light & Wonder does get .8513% of that 66% as an administrative fee, for maintaining the Central Communications System to which all machines connect.)

According to year-end figures provided by the Illinois Gaming Board, in 2023, 48 terminals in nine establishments in the unincorporated areas of Whiteside County resulted in $137, 503, rounded up to the nearest dollar.

That’s $19,531 more than the $117,972 garnered the year before, which is odd, given there were more machines in 2022 – 54 terminals in 10 establishments.

For Sterling, which had 192 terminals in 33 establishments in 2023, the take was $448,598, while Rock Falls, with 168 terminals in 30 establishments, netted $397,532.

In 2022, Sterling’s 183 terminals in 32 establishments brought the city $10,378 less, at $438,220.

In Rock Falls, also with slightly fewer terminals, 162 at 29 places, the city’s share was nearly the same as 2022 – $367,930, or about $398 more than in 2023.

In Lee County, those numbers were $81,345 for the county last year, netted from 48 terminals in nine establishments. That’s an increase of $12,889 over 2022′s $68,456, when there were a dozen fewer machines – 36 in seven places.

Dixon’s 156 machines in 28 establishments brought the city $513,771 in 2023, while its 2022 take was $48,433 less with four fewer machine over 27 establishments.

Ogle County took in $43,230 from 43 machines in nine establishments, up $8,720 over 2022, when it garnered $34,510 from 36 machines in seven establishments.

Oregon, which had 70 machines in 13 establishments last year, took in $183,057, slightly more – $1,163 – than the $181,894 the year before, even though there were more machines in 2022 – 76 at 14 places.

In most municipalities, the revenue makes up a small part of its overall budget.

In Sterling, for example, where the fiscal year runs from May 1 to April 30, that extra dab of income is added to the General Fund, which funds the majority of city operations (police, fire, public works, building department, clerk and finance), City Manager Scott Shumard said.

The infusion represents only about 2.4% of the overall fund, Shumard said.

Dixon also puts its share of gambling revenue into its General Fund, as does Lee County, where revenue from gaming accounts .005% of its budget, County Administrator Jeremy Englund said.

Statewide, video gambling revenue generated $762 million for the state the last fiscal year, which ran from July 1, 2022, to June 30, 2023, a record-breaking number.

It was up more than 52% from the previous fiscal year, according to a recently released report from the Illinois General Assembly’s Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability Office.

That’s due in part to changes in the law in recent years that increased the state’s share of video gambling revenues and allowed venues to add more machines – six rather than five.

At the end of June 2022, the state was generating video gambling revenue from 43,128 machines in 7,967 establishments. That amounts to 7.4% more terminals in 4.5% more establishments than the end of the previous fiscal year.

Thanks to the COVID pandemic, the state suspended video gaming from March 16 to 30, 2020 and from November 20, 2020 to Jan.16, 2021.

What about my town?

Wondering what kind of gaming revenue your community is generating? Go to and click on Video Gaming on the left side of the page. Make sure to click on “municipality” next to “report type.”

Kathleen Schultz

Kathleen A. Schultz

Kathleen Schultz is a Sterling native with 40 years of reporting and editing experience in Arizona, California, Montana and Illinois.