ITHA provides update on sports betting legislation

Posted: March 23, 2019

The Illinois Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association provided the following update on legislative activity regarding sports betting in the state:

Illinois lawmakers are intensifying their consideration of proposals to legalize and regulate sports betting. Democrats in the House of Representatives filed four amendments representing possible approaches to this avenue of gaming expansion.

The Illinois Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association is closely engaged on this matter at the Capitol. We are encouraged that three of the four amendments would authorize racetracks to conduct sports betting and that one would explicitly require the track to share profits with purses.

However, it’s important to recognize that these amendments to the bill represent ideas put forward by members of the General Assembly to stimulate debate. None is fast-tracked; each will be the subject of much deliberation in the weeks of legislative session to come.

Moreover, while sports betting certainly could help boost Illinois Thoroughbred purses, it appears unlikely to generate the revenue necessary to position our sport to again compete with other jurisdictions already using gaming revenue to supplement purses, stop the exodus of racing jobs from Illinois, and, ultimately, grow field size and handle.

Illinois horsemen therefore continue to press for the passage of legislation to advance our priorities: generate additional revenue necessary to substantially improve purses; maximize live racing opportunities; and end the practice of recapture, by which tracks deplete horsemen’s purses to subsidize their own operations.

The bill and related amendments are available here.