Hawthorne Racecourse (5/4/10)
Contact: Bill Bracken, (312) 316-7070
Dakota Shultz, (312) 371-4104
BILL FOR SLOTS AT RACE TRACKS STEP IN RIGHT DIRECTION
Permanent Job Creation, Annual Tax Revenue Will Provide Catalyst for Economic Growth
Stickney, IL (May 4, 2010) — Lawmakers in Springfield are getting closer to calling a bill that would permit slot machines at Illinois race tracks. In the waning days of the spring legislative session, passage of such a bill would be a bona fide accomplishment towards addressing Illinois’ economic issues. Sponsors of the bill have been meeting with representatives from the racing industry now that the track operators and horsemen groups have reached an historic consensus for the proposal bill.
“Everyone in Illinois—taxpayers, lawmakers, journalists—knows that the State is in economic peril,” said Tim Carey, president of Hawthorne Race Course. “We rank 48th in job creation, have record unemployment and record deficits. Lawmakers are looking for reasonable, incremental solutions to address Illinois’ core economic woes and authorizing slots at Illinois race tracks is an achievable solution with bipartisan support that can provide an immediate economic jolt across the entire state.”
Twelve other states across the nation—all of which also have traditional casinos—already allow slot machines at race tracks. In 2008, those states garnered an additional $2.6 BILLION in tax revenue. By converting race tracks into multi-faceted gaming facilities, these states created thousands of new permanent jobs. Experts estimate that providing slots at Illinois tracks would generate up to $300 MILLION in annual tax revenue, and create 1,500 new jobs. Additionally, tracks would pay a licensing fee to the state of up to $400 MILLION.
Tax revenue from slots at race tracks would go to shore up the Capital Bill Fund. The Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability recently estimated that the revenue from video gaming to fund the State’s capital construction program would be short as much as $177.7 MILLION projected annually, as over 50 communities have already “opted-out” of the Video Gaming Act. Such a budget shortfall would put tens of thousands of construction and capital bill jobs at risk.
“Jobs, jobs, jobs. Job creation is vastly more important than the budget deficit,” said former State Representative Bob Molaro. Economists across the spectrum acknowledge as much. If you create jobs, you create revenue, you create commerce, you broaden the tax base. We are talking about creating and saving thousands and thousands of jobs with this bill. Labor unions across the state understand this and have come out to support slots at race tracks.” Illinois horseracing and breeding is a $2.5 BILLION industry and it is losing jobs to Indiana and Iowa, both of which have already allowed slots at race tracks.
The proposal has gained a lot of attention in Springfield because of the current economic crisis within the state and because gaming has become so commonplace from the lottery to casinos to now video poker at bars, restaurants and truck stops. “We always expected opposition from the casinos and legislators in casino districts,” said Carey. “But frankly, protecting the multi-billion dollar bottom line of casinos is not a legislative priority and every legislator who represents a mother or father who needs a job knows better. We cannot let special interests derail a real and immediate solution to create and save thousands and thousands of jobs.”
Nationwide the ‘moral’ opposition to gaming is also waning. From the lottery to trips to Vegas, 86 percent of Americans will gamble at some point in their lives. As a family-owned and operated business for over 100 years, Hawthorne Race Course has long been a fixture of the Chicagoland community. Added Carey: “Hundreds of thousands of families have earned a respectable living through Illinois racing. We won’t solve Illinois’ economic problems right away, but if lawmakers can create even one job, shouldn’t we all applaud those efforts? This is a serious solution for a serious issue.”
ABOUT HAWTHORNE RACE COURSE
Hawthorne Race Course is the second oldest family-owned and operated horse race track in the nation and the oldest sporting venue in Illinois. Originally purchased in 1909 by Thomas Carey, Hawthorne is now led by Tim Carey, the 4th generation president. Located on Chicago’s city limits, Hawthorne is situated on 136-acres, a half-mile north of the Stevenson Expressway and just 10 minutes from downtown Chicago. Regulated by the Illinois Racing Board, Hawthorne traditionally hosts a spring and fall Thoroughbred race meet and currently employs approximately 250 people.
For more information on racing at Hawthorne, visit our website at www.Hawthorneracecourse.com.