Just The Razzle Dazzle
Arlington Park put out a newsletter today that purports to be "Just The Facts".
Hardly. Arlington's newsletter begs the question, why would it come out publicly
in such an aggressive and false manner? Apparently a nerve has been struck and
it has nothing to do with contract negotiations. It has everything to do with legislation.
Maybe ITHA and its fellow horsemen groups in Illinois have been a little too effective
in Springfield the past 3 years to suit Arlington's taste.
At the end of the Fall 2012 veto session a pending bill to extend the current ADW
law as is through June 30, 2013 was not called for some reason unknown to the ITHA.
The lame duck session is now upon us and it appears a gaming bill will not be called.
Instead of just calling a stand-alone bill to extend ADW, HB4466 was amended to
include the 6-month extension of ADW and calls for an 80% sweep totaling
$70.4 million dollars from the DesPlaines casino that was statutorily intended for
the Horse Racing Equity Trust Fund. That's more than 35 million dollars of money
intended for the purse accounts and more than 35 million dollars intended for the tracks
that will be swept away under this Bill.
Of course the ITHA and IHHA opposed this. We assumed the tracks would too.
They did not.
In 2011, Illinois purses received a total of $3.3 million from ADW and the tracks
received $3.3 million. ADW is a nice source of revenue but it would take 10 years
of ADW to make up what HB4466 would sweep away right now.
When something doesn't add up it usually means there is a missing piece.
What is the $70.4 million really being traded for?
ITHA has and does fully support the extension of the current ADW law for another
6 months at which time a new, more equitable ADW law can be drafted and passed.
ITHA understood the possibility of trading some of the Des Plaines casino money
for a concurrent slots at tracks bill. ITHA does not understand trading $70.4 million
just to extend ADW for 6 months during which time the tracks and purses will collect
a total of about $3.5 million dollars. ADW should be extended on its own, now or later.
Otherwise, it should be extended during the new session which starts February 4th,
in conjunction with a slots at tracks gaming bill including our agreed rates,
racing guarantees and recapture end.
As for the Arlington contract diatribe, a contract for 2013 has been signed with
Hawthorne without incident as it has the past 3 years and contract negotiations
with Arlington were similarly without incident until the impact fee monies were released
in August of 2011. Arlington has refused to sign essentially the same contract it signed
in May 2012. Arlington has made no contract offer and has provided no suggested
language changes to the 2012 contract.
Message received. ITHA has a 6-member committee set to begin work when the lame
duck session ends January 8th on a new contract proposal for the Arlington 2013 meet.
Suffice to say that if Arlington negotiates in good faith this year, we should have
no problem having a contract in place well before the season starts. If it does not,
the Illinois Racing Board has included a mandatory mediation provision in its dates
order (which Arlington is currently trying to reverse through a pending lawsuit against
the IRB), which will occur if no contract is signed 30 days before the meet.
Glen Berman, ITHA Executive Director