Illinois gambling bill benefiting racing signed into law

By: Tom LaMarra

Posted: June 28, 2019

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker June 28 signed into law a massive gambling expansion bill that includes slot machines at racetracks, live-racing guarantees and an end to the practice called purse recapture.

The law calls for a minimum of 12.75% of racetrack slots revenue to go toward purses and breed development programs. Arlington Park, Hawthorne Race Course, Fairmount Park and a proposed Standardbred track in the Chicago suburbs would get slots; the law also authorizes sports betting at racetracks and casinos.

Illinois gaming bill seen as path forward for horse racing

“The horseracing portion of this new law, which represents a negotiated agreement reached by tracks and horsemen, also will implement a structure to guarantee live racing,” said Mike Campbell, President of the Illinois Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, which represents horsemen at Arlington and Hawthorne. “And it will phase out recapture, the practice of tracks depleting horsemen’s purses to subsidize their own operations.

“It will take some time before Illinois thoroughbred purses are substantially improved. But when the terms of this new law are fully implemented, Illinois can once again become a world-class destination for Thoroughbred horse racing. We will share additional details, as we have them, specific to the roll-out of our new and much-improved gaming landscape.

Hawthorne already has mapped out plans for its on-track gaming operation. Few details have been released by Arlington, whose parent company, Churchill Downs Inc., owns a nearby casino.

(Hawthorne Race Course photo courtesy of ITHA)