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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Illinois on The Ropes

With the original gaming bill all but dead, legislators are working on new legislation which would meet the approval of the Governor. Unfortunately, this bill does not meet the approval of the standardbred or thoroughbred industry and both are opposed to the new legislation in SB747.  Under SB747, casinos at the tracks would be replaced with impact fees, basically an extension of the impact fees which currently are in place.

There are multiple problems with impact fees.  First of all, the racing industry remembers how long they had to wait for the 3% impact fees from the casinos last time as the riverboats fought the distribution of the funds all the way to the United States Supreme Court.  Secondly, the funds would have to go through the state government to make its way to the tracks.  Remember a couple of years ago it took almost a year for the state to free up the money to pay the purses for the now defunct World Trotting Derby?  It takes horsemen almost a year to get their money for SuperNight and the State Fair the way it is.  What is to keep the state from running into a financial crisis and have them owe racing the money, if not change the legislation?  Not a darn thing.  If a track had a casino, the money would already be at the track and they would remit the funds to the state.  How can horsemen be expected to support legislation which basically will produce IOUs from the state which may get paid?

Lastly, the horsemen would only get 15% of the impact fee with racetrack operators getting 85% of the fee but it also allows the tracks to implement recapture meaning some of the money intended for increasing purses may not even be seen by horsemen.  The other protections racing got under the original legislation has been removed from this legislation.  Let's face it, if horsemen don't want this legislation if they can't get a casino speaks volumes on the bill.

At this time it appears it will not get voted upon as it appears the votes are not in the Senate to approve the bill and Governor Quinn is supposedly stepping back from the bill, allegedly because he knows the votes are not there.

My fear is there will be no gaming bill passed during this veto session and the original bill will go to the Governor to make him veto it as part of the political process.  This will leave racing of all breeds in Illinois on the ropes.  This time they may not be able to get up.

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