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Illinois Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association

Illinois Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association (10/22)

Critical Legislative Issues Facing ITHA

The next year will be crucial to the future of horse racing in Illinois. We are on the verge of what can be a renaissance or a collapse depending largely on legislative and regulatory outcomes.

Slots at tracks in Illinois is as close to a reality as it has ever been. The monumental collective efforts of the Illinois horsemen's groups, including your ITHA along with the Illinois HBPA and the IHHA, to collaborate with the tracks, the breeders and the Illinois Racing Board, resulted in Senate Bill 1849 being passed by both the Illinois House and Senate this year before it was vetoed by the Governor. All signs point to a similar bill being passed and signed into law by January 2013.

The ITHA remains steadfast in only supporting such a bill that maintains the end of recapture, guaranteed racing opportunities and percentage rates to purses that have been in SB1849 and the previous two bills we helped draft and pass an additional once in the House and twice in the Senate in the past two years.

Your ITHA Board, legislative team and lobbyists will continue on this course until it is accomplished.

We recognize that traditional handle sources of income to fund the horsemen's purse accounts are diminishing and we have to focus on the alternative, growing sources of income. In the slots legislation we have negotiated very favorable rates to the purse account from casino adjusted gross receipts. We can not allow any rewrite of a slots bill to change this.

Advance deposit wagering legislation this past Spring which extended the current ADW law will expire at the end of 2012. Handle from ADW is a growth market. When ADW became law in Illinois three years ago the horsemen's purse accounts at Arlington and Hawthorne were receiving well over 4 percent of the handle but now it is approaching half that amount. The language and structure of the current ADW law allowed the horsemen's share to dwindle. ITHA will only support an equitable rewrite of the ADW law that gives horsemen their fair share of the product they provide to the ADW companies to sell. A new ADW law or extension of the current law, modified or not, will occur during this Fall legislative session.

Internet gaming legislation is also around the corner and ITHA is involved in discussions with legislative leaders to make sure horsemen's purses get a piece of this potentially very lucrative market.

At the national level, we are very wary of potential assaults on the Interstate Horse Racing Act and the all important right of the horsemen to control the signal. Losing that right would be game over for horsemen and the balance of power with the tracks. Horsemen cannot let this happen.

Glen E. Berman, Executive Director/General Counsel

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