Perhaps our time has come to level the playing field between neighboring states who have stolen away Illinois owners, trainers, breeding operations, jockeys, and many of our wagering dollars.
Governor Quinn has in his hands the ultimate fate of our racing and breeding industry.
In excess of 30,000 jobs hang in the balance as one man considers our plight even after SB 744 passed the Illinois House and Senate some five months ago.
As a matter of historical record I would like to share with our membership the genesisof SB 744 (Slots at Tracks) legislation, which the ITHA has so actively pursued. The ITHA Board of Directors, Executive Director and General Counsel Glen Berman, and Mike Campbell philosophical understanding of any (Slot at Tracks) legislation was centered around protection of the racing industry that also protected and grew the Illinois breeding industry, while allowing for substantial benefit to the purse account .
After input from the Illinois Thoroughbred Breeders and Owners Foundation and ITHA Board of Directors it was concluded that a legislative committee would begin our negotiation with the tracks based on seven core values that we believed would protect, grow, and better serve the breeding and racing industry in Illinois.
January 12, 2010 Presentation at Trackside Arlington
Seven Core Values presented to Illinois Track Owners
1. 50/50 Partners
2. Elimination of Recapture (independent and non-inclusive of slot revenue)
3. Maintain Racing opportunities at 2009 levels
4. Equal interest in condition book, purse structure and stakes program
5. Workers Compensation
6. Full Disclosure (financial and otherwise)
7. Protection of Illinois Horsemen and industry (Owners, Trainers, Illinois Breed, safety, stalls, etc.)
Although the tracks initially rejected any thought of equal partnership, recapture elimination, or the protection of racing opportunities, the ITHA, ITBOF, HBPA, and the IHHA remained steadfast on insisting that a breach of these core principles was a non-starter for our respective associations.
With one exception, workers compensation, which the ITHA believed would decrease owner liability, farm worker liability, and stabilize training fees to owners we meet or exceeded or objectives.
After months of intense negotiations The ITHA held these three positions as sacred to the racing and breeding industry in Illinois.
1. The complete elimination of recapture
2. Fair share of slot revenue to purses
3. Protection of live racing opportunities to Thoroughbreds racing at both Arlington and Hawthorne in Cook County and Fairmount Park Thoroughbreds racing in Madison County