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Analysis: Grand Victoria, Elgin
By Joseph Ryan | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 7/20/2008 12:13 AM

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The Grand Victoria has long been the top moneymaker among Illinois casinos.

The $437 million it took in last year was $56 million more than the next highest grossing casino.

Still, the state's top casino has seen a dramatic decrease in attendance - 32 percent, or about 1.2 million fewer visits in 2007 than in 2000. In the same time span, the bets only rose $21 million out of $6 billion, or less than half of 1 percent.

Grand Victoria's turn to tighter slots hasn't been as rapid as other casinos. Nonetheless, the switch is noticeable.

Last year, slots that withheld more than 10 cents of every dollar on average made up 26 percent of the casino's slot revenue and 33 percent of the casino floor.

About 379 out of 1,151 slot machines fell into this category, with the worst payers including the casino's 3-penny games that withheld an average of 12.5 cents from every dollar.

Tight slots are clearly playing a role in keeping Elgin on top. Revenue at Grand Victoria has risen 13 percent since 2000 despite the drop in attendance.

The slot machines brought in 25 percent more cash in 2007 than they did in 2000 even though gamblers only put 3 percent more money in them.

Repeated telephone calls seeking comment from a Grand Victoria spokeswoman were not returned over several weeks.