Industry Letter To Rep. Rita

March 20th, 2014 | written by Lanny Brooks

The Honorable Bob Rita

State Representative

March 20, 2014

281-S Stratton Office Building Springfield, IL 62706

Dear Representative Rita,

As you know, for several years the Illinois Horse Racing Industry has advocated for passage of legislation to authorize electronic gaming at racetracks, which would put our state on par with neighboring horse racing states and help ensure the long-term survival of our industry and its many jobs.  That carefully negotiated, agreed legislation reflects a balancing of interests among all segments of the industry.  HB744, SB1849, and most recently SB1739 have provided for gaming at racetracks (1200 positions for Cook County tracks and 900 for downstate tracks) that would enable tracks to make an investment of capital to generate gaming revenue to support the horse racing industry through enhanced purses.  Almost 3,000 new gaming jobs will be created at these racetracks, plus approximately 1,000 temporary construction jobs to build facilities to conduct electronic gaming.  The racetracks are projected to generate almost $100 million annually in taxes, plus over $400 million in licensing fees to the state. Most importantly, many thousands of agri-business jobs (and their associated taxes and economic activity) will be preserved.

The fact sheet accompanying your recent press release indicated you planned to introduce two separate amendments to SB1739.  The first would not include any measures to assist horse racing and would provide for a Chicago casino only.  The Horse Racing Industry would oppose that amendment, as it would only exacerbate the disadvantage horse racing currently has in the Illinois gaming market.  The second amendment cuts in half the amount of gaming positions allocated for racetracks and eliminates positions at Fairmount Park.  The Horse Racing Industry also opposes this amendment.  In addition to effectively eliminating the Horse Racing Industry in Southern Illinois, the decrease in gaming positions will not enable Illinois racing to be competitive with racing in other states that allow gaming at their tracks. We implore you to restore the gaming positions at racetracks to the numbers that were proposed in the earlier bills, to maximize state revenues and job creation.

We respectfully ask that you reconsider this matter and retain the negotiated, industry-agreed language dealing with electronic gaming at tracks.

With greatest respect,

 Dave McCaffrey
Illinois Harness
Horsemen Association

Mike Campbell
Illinois Thoroughbred
Horsemen’s Association

Gene Allen
Illinois Quarter Horse

Lanny Brooks Illinois Horsemen’s Benevolent & Protective Association

Tony Petrillo
Arlington International

Brian Zander
Fairmount Park Racecourse

Tim Carey Hawthorne Racecourse

John Johnston
Balmoral Park Racecourse

William “Duke” Johnston
Maywood Park Racecourse


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