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Thursday, January 10, 2013

Regaining Influence

The Illinois lame duck session of the legislature failed to approve legislation allowing an expansion of slots to the racetracks, something Governor Quinn indicated he would not object to.  While slots would help the fortunes of racing, I understand why no such bill passed the legislature as Chicago-area legislators who want a casino in the Windy City would not be pleased as would the Riverboat casinos who abhor competition.

What I can't understand is the legislature not passing an extension of account wagering which had to be suspended on January 1 due to enabling legislation expiring.  Certainly someone must have objected to the extension of account wagering.  Was it the Riverboat casinos?  No.  Was it the Governor?  No.  So who was it?

No one seems to have a problem with ADWs yet legislation extending its legality did not pass the Illinois legislature in the lame duck session.  Maybe there were bigger fishes to fry in the legislative session but really, how long would it take to pass legislation no one seemingly objects to?  Yet, no such bill advanced meaning while not a crippling blow in the short term, an industry within the Prairie State is hurt needlessly.  When such a simple bill can't advance, it shows a legislature which is tone deaf when it comes to horse racing.

Unfortunately, it is not just Illinois where legislators are tone deaf.  Has the campaign donations of the casino industry so clouded the judgement of legislators around the country so much that a simple bill allowing account wagering to continue is pushed to the bottom of the pile of bills in a lame duck session?  If not, what has happened to racing that it seemingly gets no respect by legislators?  

Whatever the cause, racing needs to address the problem as soon as possible for even if racing is willing to make changes within its product, ultimately it is the individual state legislatures which have the fate of racing in their hands due to their regulatory powers.  If another group is controlling the dialogue, racing must find a way to win its influence back.

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