Hawthorne Touts Illinois Racetrack Slots Plan

Legislation to authorize slot machines at Illinois racetracks is under consideration.

Hawthorne Race Course is touting legislation that would authorize slot machines at Illinois racetracks.

In a May 4 release, Hawthorne said such legislation is “getting closer” to being called for a vote by state lawmakers. Officials also said Illinois racetracks and horsemen’s groups have “reached an historic consensus” on the bill.

Hawthorne president Tim Carey said racetrack slots would generate $300 million in revenue each year for the state as well as create 1,500 jobs in a state that ranks 48th in the nation in job creation. He said the tracks would pay up to $400 million in licensing fees.

“Hundreds of thousands of families have earned a respectable living through Illinois racing,” Carey said in a statement. “We won’t solve Illinois’ economic problems right away, but if lawmakers can create even one job, shouldn’t we all applaud those efforts? This is a serious solution for a serious issue.”

The Hawthorne release notes that more than 50 municipalities have rejected implementation of video gaming, which leaves a $177 million shortfall in the state capital construction budget.

The Illinois horse racing industry is said to be a $2.5 billion industry.

“We are talking about creating and saving thousands and thousands of jobs with this bill,” Rep. Bob Molaro said. “Labor unions across the state understand this and have come out to support slots at racetracks.”

The Illinois casino industry opposes the measure, saying it amounts to competition for existing facilities in a down market.