Illinois Racing Industry Must Stay United
Illinois horse racing is on the verge of a renaissance if the industry
does not get in its own way. The turnaround in purses the past two years
occasioned by the release of casino subsidies will be expanded on
exponentially when slots at the tracks becomes a reality.
Where a couple years ago the prospect of race tracks in Illinois closing
was on the horizon, that will become a distant memory as all race tracks
with slots should continue to thrive and grow.
The Illinois legislature will be back in session on November 27, 2012 and
by the end of the lame duck session on January 8, 2013, there is more
than a good chance we will be celebrating the enactment of an expanded
gaming bill that will elevate Illinois back to where it should be - a leader in
The inevitability of passage of such a gaming bill was likely sealed after this
month's elections which resulted in veto-proof majorities for Democrats in
both the Illinois House and Senate for the next two years, with the legislative
session beginning January 9, 2013.
It is essential that we make sure that the language agreed to by all tracks
and horsemen's groups in SB1849 stays intact and unchanged in whatever
bill goes forward. For the horsemen, it means the end of recapture, guaranteed
live racing opportunities to make sure racing does not play second fiddle to the
casino portion of the tracks, and percentage rates from casino revenues that
have stayed unchanged through the last several bills - rates that will double or
triple current purses.
To do that, the racing industry must stay united. It would be a travesty if divisive
actions within our industry in the coming months causes negative consequences.
Frivolous contract disputes, lawsuits and/or finger pointing should yield
to the greater good of Illinois horse racing.
The current ADW law which expires on January 1, 2013 should be extended
as is by agreement until next summer to keep this issue, which all parties do not
agree upon, from becoming a distraction to the bigger legislative agenda at hand.
This is a complicated industry with differing entities and different needs,
motivations and points of view. For the good of all, the entire horse racing industry
must put aside its differences for the next couple months and focus on getting the
slots at tracks bill passed and signed.
When that is accomplished, perhaps our other differences may seem minor
Glen Berman, ITHA Executive Director
November 15, 2012