Illinois Racing Faces Funding Crisis
The Illinois horse racing industry will find itself in trouble if lawmakers fail to renew a law which expires at the beginning of next year.The legislation which allows online betting on horse racing will expire at the end of January and if lawmakers don’t renew it then race dates at Illinois racetracks will be severely cut.
About 30% of the state’s racing board’s budget comes from online betting.
At the same time the racing board is seeking supplemental funding from lawmakers to cover a $725,000 shortfall from the spring when the Legislature didn’t renew the law for several months.
Dave McCaffrey, Illinois Harness Horsemen’s Association President, said that it’s a “crucial moment in Illinois racing.” He said that in recent weeks there have been a number of meetings with lawmakers and it is his “great hope that an agreement will be reached and a bill is passed.”
As a result of the uncertainty the racing board has approved four different schedules for next year. In the worse-case scenario, where the law is not extended and the board receives no extra money, racing dates will be cut by more than 80% with just 87 dates next year divided between the state’s four racetracks. There were 466 racing days in 2013.