EAST ST. LOUIS, IL (KPLR) - The Casino Queen in East St. Louis has laid off twenty employees, but the casinos woes extend beyond the gates of their riverfront complex. There is a significant impact on the city of East St. Louis, which receives more than a third of its total budget from the casino.
The loss of twenty jobs is just a small part of a larger trend. Since 2007, when the current version of the Queen opened, employment there has fallen from about 1,200 people to just 600. The job losses have followed drops in revenue. That hurts when a single business, the casino, is 38% of the city budget.
“That’s part of what gets new police cars,” East St. Louis mayor Alvin Parks said. “That’s part of what keeps police officers and firefighters on the streets, and public works employees on the street here in East St. Louis. It’s having that revenue from the Queen.”
Revenue at the Casino Queen has fallen 4.6% since the same time last year. A spokesperson points to increased competition from video slot machines that are now allowed in bars and restaurants around Illinois.
A spokesperson says that new competition is equivalent to opening 15 or 16 completely new casinos across the state.
East St. Louis’ mayor says it’s vital for local resident to help keep the Queen healthy.
“We have a very tremendous need to see the Casino Queen to continue to operate well,” he said. “We need to make sure people understand that value and not simply spend all their discretionary income at the taverns and restaurant outside East St. Louis with the gaming situation.”