Priorities of Illinois Horsemen Advance at Illinois Capitol;
Arlington Park Contract Approved
Statement from Mike Campbell,
President of the Illinois Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association
Mike Campbell, ITHA President
Congratulations, Illinois horsemen.
On May 1st, the Illinois Senate approved gaming expansion legislation that has the potential to promote a robust future for horse racing in Illinois.
Thanks to your efforts, Senate Bill 1739 embodies the priorities of the Illinois Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association. This measure, which now heads to the House for consideration, would:
Authorize slots at tracks and require tracks to share a portion of that revenue with purses.
Guarantee racing opportunities.
Abolish the recapture subsidy, which diverts dollars from purses to compensate tracks for losses in live handle due to simulcasting their races.
ITHA leaders, together with our lobbying team, look forward to discussing with House members the critical need for this legislation. As tracks and horsemen have noted for several years, Illinois horse racing has struggled to compete with other states that have allowed their tracks to operate casino-style games as a means to enhance purses.
By permitting Illinois tracks to operate slot machines, and requiring those tracks to share that revenue with purses, SB 1739 will help ensure a vibrant future for Illinois horse racing, the hard-working men and women who make horse racing possible, and the more than 35,000 jobs that we support in Illinois agriculture.
This legislation also will authorize a Chicago casino and four new riverboat casinos.
Importantly, thanks to an amendment that horsemen supported this week, this bill does not authorize tracks and ADW providers to begin operating Internet gaming. Though Illinois horsemen support allowing tracks and ADW providers to offer poker and other casino-style games online as a means to bolster purses, we adamantly opposed the effort - expressed in a previous version of the bill - to grant them Internet gaming authority without requiring them to share a dime with purses.
As horsemen know, and as we stated repeatedly, tracks and ADW providers would earn this gaming privilege solely because of their association with horse racing. Generating revenue to bolster purses - to save horse racing, preserve jobs, and support Illinois agriculture - is the entire point of letting tracks and ADW providers venture into casino-style gaming.
We anticipate lawmakers will continue deliberating the appropriate terms of Internet gaming. Illinois horsemen will stay actively engaged in this discussion; we will continue to impress upon lawmakers the value that horse racing provides for the Illinois economy and the imperative of ensuring fair funding for the purses that drive our industry.
Arlington Contract Approved
Following weeks of negotiations, on April 24th the ITHA reached a two-year contract with Arlington Park. We are pleased to report that this agreement will provide adequate funding for the critical programs we provide that directly support horsemen, backstretch workers, and horses racing at Arlington.
Additionally, this contract provides that Arlington will not charge stall rent to trainers that were allocated stalls in 2013. As you'll recall, Arlington's stall application for this year included an unprecedented provision authorizing the track to charge stall rent during live racing - Illinois horsemen forcefully opposed this effort.
The Illinois Racing Board is considering regulatory language changes to the stall application approval process to be put in place beginning with the 2014 racing season. ITHA and other stakeholders have been asked by the IRB to provide input for consideration at its May 21 board meeting at Fairmount Park.
Congratulations, once again, for a job well done. Thank you for your support.
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