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Illinois Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association

Illinois Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association (5/31/13)

Illinois Lawmakers Adjourn With No Action on Slots at Tracks

Illinois Horsemen Must Remain Focused, Organized and Vigilant to Be Successful

Update from Mike Campbell, President of the Illinois Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association

Dear Fellow Horsemen:

I'm deeply disappointed to share the news that the General Assembly adjourned its spring session without approving a broad gaming expansion package that, among its provisions, would allow tracks to operate slot machines as a means to improve funding of purses.

The measure cleared the Senate, but late Friday the House sponsor announced he would not be calling it for a vote. The sponsor said he would pursue additional hearings on the matter.

The Illinois Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association remains committed to supporting legislation to protect and enhance Illinois horseracing by allowing it to more adequately compete against other states that already permit their tracks to bolster purses with revenue from slots.

Indeed, the latest amendment to SB 1739 - the gaming expansion bill pending before the House - supports ITHA priorities:

  • Slots-at-tracks language identical to that in Senate Bill 1849, the bill that lawmakers approved last spring.
  • The purse rates we previously agreed to.
  • The guaranteed racing opportunities we previously agreed to.
  • Immediate elimination of "recapture."

Additionally, thanks to our advocacy, this legislation also would provide an increase in breeders' awards.

Lawmakers may return to the Capitol sooner than the scheduled fall veto session that begins October 22 to address the state's mounting debt in public pension systems - a critical matter not resolved by adjournment Friday - and if they return early we will implore legislators to address the gaming expansion bill at that time.

Following years of continued discussion about this gaming expansion framework, we believe legislative leadership and lawmakers have a sound understanding and appreciation of the need to improve purses in Illinois to keep horse racing alive in this state.

Thank you for your continued outreach to elected officials. We are all tremendously frustrated with the continued delays, but we must stay focused, organized and vigilant if we are to be successful.

ADW Extension Approved

Meanwhile, lawmakers did give final approval to a separate measure that would reauthorize ADW through Jan. 31, 2014 and sent that measure to Gov. Pat Quinn for consideration.

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