Racing and Legislative Update for Illinois Horsemen

President's Message: Spring Meet Will Soon Begin at Hawthorne

The spring meet at Hawthorne Race Course is just weeks away and Illinois horsemen have already returned to the track for training.

The Illinois Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association recognizes and thanks Hawthorne Race Course for all the time and effort that its staff devoted to resurfacing the track and re-installing the safety rail to prepare the venue for thoroughbred racing.

Horses are heading to Hawthorne from Chicago-area communities and other racing jurisdictions including Fairmount Park Racetrack, Oaklawn Park, Turfway Park and Fair Grounds Race Course. We look forward to a vibrant meet, which will begin Friday, March 30 and end Saturday, April 28, and will consist of 15 racing days. 

I wish all the owner and trainer members of the ITHA the best of racing luck. 

I'm proud to serve the finest horsemen I know. As always, please do not hesitate to visit or contact the ITHA's office with any questions you have or suggestions on how we can improve our services for horsemen.

Mike Campbell
Mike Campbell

Illinois and Other States Eyeing the Prospect of Sports Betting; ITHA Lobbying to Ensure Such Legislation Protects the Investment of Horsemen

Illinois lawmakers, together with their counterparts in states across the U.S., are closely watching a U.S. Supreme Court case that, should it be decided as observers expect, could eliminate the ban on sports betting in the U.S.

The high court's decision in the case, which concerns New Jersey's challenge to a federal law that bars states from permitting sports gambling, may not come until later this spring. But lawmakers already are considering legislation to govern sports betting and tax those wagers in the event that the Supreme Court effectively legalizes the practice.

Legislatures in 16 states, in fact, are considering 42 separate measures relating to prospective sports betting operations, according to the American Gaming Association. 

Here in Illinois, the ITHA, in close concert with the Illinois Harness Horsemen's Association, is actively engaged in lobbying for a version of such legislation that will firmly protect the investment of horsemen, who, after all, support thousands of jobs at the tracks and throughout Illinois agribusiness. Specifically, we are advocating for language that would ensure an adequate portion of takeout on sports bets is directed to purses.

Given the striking similarity between wagering on football, basketball or another sporting event and betting on horse races - in Las Vegas, tellers take bets for both racing and sports - racetracks and OTBs are the most logical venues for sports betting. By being proactive, we intend for the interests of the Illinois horse racing industry to be included in any bill that eventually passes.

The spring legislative session is scheduled to run through May 31. We look forward to keeping you posted on any developments. Please also visit the ITHA online for news and updates on matters of interest to horsemen.

Reminding Lawmakers of the Value that Horse Racing and Horsemen Provide
In early February, ITHA staff visited the Capitol to underscore the support we provide for jobs, at the tracks and throughout Illinois agribusiness, and the value our work provides for state taxpayers.

Executive Director David McCaffrey, together with Office Director George Moreno and Horsemen's Liaison Mena Perez, visited the offices of all 177 members of the General Assembly to offer pamphlets, each packaged in a box with a miniature horse wearing a bandana with the ITHA logo, describing our activities and services.

ITHA Directors Chris Block, Tom Fedro and Mickey Goldfine also were on hand to assist with the outreach.