Acting under a looming deadline, the Illinois legislature Jan. 29 reauthorized advance deposit wagering in the state, staving off a draconian cut in 2014 racing dates.
Lacking action, the 2014 Thoroughbred season would have been cut to 49 days at Arlington Park
, 15 at Hawthorne Race Course
, and 10 at downstate Fairmount Park
. The renewal of ADW, the primary funding source for the Illinois Racing Board, allows for 100 days of racing at Hawthorne, 89 at Arlington, and 52 at Fairmount.
The industry had squabbled about details of reauthorization. But late last year, at the urging of IRB Chairman William Berry, agreement was reached on legislation. However, the bill was not called during the December legislative session because of the press of other business.
The Jan. 29 meeting was the last legislative date before the Jan. 31 deadline for action and the day was reserved for Gov. Pat Quinn's "State of the State" speech. The Senate met briefly before the speech and approved the bill, 47-4. The House, after listening to Quinn, quickly called the bill and approved it, 95-10.
Quinn has said he will sign the legislation.
"I think it bodes well" for the future of Illinois racing, Berry said after the vote. "I believe all parties are working together and that speaks well for the industry."
In addition to the ADW authorization until 2017, the bill also imposes a surcharge on winning wagers placed in Illinois to make up a revenue shortfall from 2013.