Horsemen Uniting to Protect Purses,
Preserve Horse Racing and Save Jobs
As Arlington Park and other tracks continue to push legislation that would
allow tracks and advance deposit wagering providers to capitalize on Internet
gaming windfalls – without sharing a dime with purses – Illinois horsemen are uniting
in our effort to amend that bill to protect purses, preserve horse racing and save jobs.
On Monday, the Illinois Harness Horsemen’s Association published a statement on
its homepage condemning the effort to authorize tracks and ADW providers to operate
casino-style games online without requiring them to support horse racing.
Here is an excerpt from that IHHA statement:
"We think the brick and mortar “racino” model that is in SB 1739 and took
months and months of intense negotiations will be destroyed by SB 1739.
Consider the following current options handed to racetracks in this new bill.
On the one hand, racetracks would have to spend upwards of a hundred
million dollars to build a brick and mortar racino, pay tens of millions of dollars
to license and purchase the slot machines, pay tens of millions more in
gambling taxes, and then share the profits of that revenue stream from those
slot machines with horsemen. Additionally, recapture would end with the first
dollar generated from slot machines at tracks. On the other hand, in this current
proposed SB 1739, racetracks can spend a fraction of the racino cost and own
an internet casino. Racetracks (internet gaming licensees) would only be required
to pay $20 million of their future taxes up front. They would not have to spend
hundreds of millions to build brick and mortar racino facilities. They would pay less
in taxes on internet wagers than they would on racino wagers. They would not have to
share any portion of their revenues with horsemen, nor would they have to guarantee
that racing continue, nor would they have to end their purse crippling practice of
taking money away from horsemen in the form of recapture.
Simply stated, the current version of SB1739 is the death of horse racing in Illinois."
For the IHHA’s full statement, visit the IHHA’s homepage.
As ITHA members know, ITHA President Mike Campbell previously expressed our
grave concerns about the implications of this legislation. President Campbell noted, in part:
“Saving horse racing, preserving jobs, and supporting Illinois agriculture is the
entire point of allowing tracks to offer slot machines or offer other casino-style
games online. When this revenue supports purses, Illinois horse racing will more
adequately compete against racing in other states. And when horsemen stay
and race in Illinois, they support not just the people who will directly lose out if
the legislation is not changed, but also more than 35,000 jobs throughout the
Illinois ag economy, from veterinarians to feed and hay suppliers.
“Arlington, however, is not acting to protect the future of Illinois horse racing.
Under the Internet gaming legislation that Arlington supports, Arlington would
share nothing with purses. And by insisting on the authority to charge stall rent,
Arlington threatens to discourage all but the wealthiest horsemen from
competing at its facility.
“Where is Arlington's dedication to horse racing and the Illinois ag economy?
Unless SB 1739 is amended to require Arlington to share revenue with purses,
the proposal threatens to radically diminish Illinois horseracing and, in the
process, cost thousands of middle class and lower-income workers their jobs,
harming the best interests of the state of Illinois and its taxpayers.”
For President Campbell’s full statement, click here.
The Illinois Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association is working furiously at the
Illinois Capitol to amend SB 1739 to require tracks and ADW providers to share
Internet gaming revenue with purses. Despite Arlington’s effort to transform itself
into a casino-gaming style empire – to the detriment of Illinois horse racing – we will
continue to work to protect purses, preserve horse racing and save jobs.