Illinois racing remained on the brink of virtual extinction as the state legislature took no action Dec. 3 on a bill that would have provided funding to run a full 2014 schedule.
The disappointing result followed a groundbreaking agreement among tracks, horsemen, and others announced two weeks earlier that would have extended authorization for advance deposit wagering for three years and imposed a surcharge on winning pari-mutuel tickets to make up for revenue lost this year when ADW was banned for five months.
The legislature is not due back in session until late January 2014 and the current ADW authorization expires at the end of this month.
The only action Tuesday on the racing bill was approval in committee of an amendment that would require detailed financial reporting by TwinSpires.com, the ADW company operated by Churchill Downs, Inc. ADW action has stalled in the past because of infighting among other state racing interests and CDI, which also owns Arlington Park.
"Arlington will continue to work with the legislative leaders for a bill that can be quickly passed and sent to the governor when the legislature reconvenes at the end of January," said Tony Petrillo, Arlington's general manager.
Unless ADW is reauthorized and this year's lost revenue is made up, the 2014 Illinois racing schedule would be slashed.
Under that doomsday schedule, Arlington Park would run only 49 dates as opposed to 89 this year. Hawthorne Race Course would run only 15 live racing programs, compared with this year's 105 dates.
Damage to the harness industry likely already is done. The harness season normally would start just days after the Jan. 29 scheduled reconvening of the General Assembly.
"Horsemen undoubtedly already will have shipped to other states with more favorable horse racing environments" by that date, said David McCaffrey, president of the Illinois Harness Horsemen's Association.
The Illinois Racing Board earlier said if the compromise on the table Tuesday had been passed, the 2013 schedule essentially would have been run again in 2014.