The ITHA strongly supports legislation that will allow tracks to offer slot machines as a means to enhance purses. Bolstering purses will help Illinois horse racing and breeding – the entire industry – better compete with racing in other states.

The ITHA, together with other industry stakeholders, has remained steadfast in our support for a previously agreed bill, which reflects the horsemen’s priorities known as the “Three Rs”:

  • Agreed rates to support purses.
  • Guaranteed live racing opportunities.
  • Elimination of the recapture subsidy. (In 2013 alone, Arlington enjoyed a $4.2 million recapture subsidy – dollars skimmed from horsemen purses at a rate of more than $46,000 a day. Hawthorne and the state’s other tracks collectively enjoyed another $9.03 million. In 2014, Illinois tracks will reap an estimated $13.19 million. The ITHA has long stated that the recapture subsidy hurts Illinois horse racing by diminishing purses.)

Arlington Park, as well as Hawthorne Race Course and other tracks and horse racing stakeholders, have joined us in pursuing passage of that agreed legislation.

With passage of that bill, Illinois has a real opportunity to become the axis of thoroughbred horse racing in the American Midwest. When Illinois policy makers agree to allow the state’s tracks to offer slots for purposes of enhancing purses, Illinois could leapfrog Ohio, Indiana and even Kentucky with superior year-round racing.

Our state is not helpless. It can once again be a world-class destination for horse racing. Illinois can save its sport, the livelihood for thousands of horsemen that continue to race here, and the tens of thousands of jobs that horse racing supports across Illinois agribusiness.