Tracks and ADW Providers Must Share Internet Gaming Revenue
Stop Shorting Purses. Save Horse Racing. Save Jobs. Support Illinois Ag.
Statement from The Illinois Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association, the Illinois Harness Horsemen's Association, and the Illinois Horsemen Benevolent & Protective Association
Horse racing tracks and ADW providers, which conduct online wagering on horse racing, are poised to offer casino-style games solely because of their association with horse racing.
But under Senate Bill 1739, tracks and advance deposit wagering (ADW) providers would not be required to share a dime of Internet gaming revenue with purses. The addition of Internet gaming would provide no benefit for the hard-working men and women who actually make horse racing possible.
The Illinois Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association, the Illinois Harness Horsemen's Association, and the Illinois Horsemen Benevolent & Protective Association call on the Illinois Senate to amend SB 1739 to require track owners and ADW providers to share Internet gaming revenue with purses, just as tracks would share revenue from slot machines.
For more than a decade, Illinois lawmakers have contemplated allowing tracks to offer casino-style games as a means to generate additional revenue to support purses. 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.
When horsemen stay and race in Illinois, they benefit our state's horse trainers, breeders and owners, as well as our jockeys and backstretch workers.
We fully support allowing tracks and ADW providers to offer casino-style games online as a means to support purses. But let's remember that tracks and ADW providers would earn this gaming privilege solely because of their association with horse racing. Generating additional 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.
Unless Senate Bill 1739 is amended to require tracks and ADW providers to share Internet gaming 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.
Revenue from Internet gaming hosted by horse racing tracks and ADW operators should bolster purses to support the men and women who make racing possible: horse trainers, owners and breeders, and jockeys and backstretch workers.
Unless SB 1739 is amended to provide fair compensation for purses, this legislation will virtually ensure the prompt transformation of Illinois tracks and ADW companies to casino gaming empires - leaving horsemen shortchanged, reducing Illinois racing opportunities, and jeopardizing the livelihood of thousands.