Illinois Board to Rule on Purse 'Recapture' Payment

The Illinois Horse Racing Board is scheduled to meet Jan. 29 to decide on a $13-million "recapture" payment to the state's racetracks that would come from the horsemen's purse account.

The IRB discussed the recapture payment at its regular meeting earlier this month, but a decision was delayed because of complaints from the National Jockey Club, which owns shuttered Sportsman's Park.

The recapture payment, which is used to compensate tracks for the loss of live handle since full-card simulcasting was authorized in 1995, is slated to total $13,704,522 for 2003. The figure is less than the more than $15 million paid the previous year, largely because Sportsman's Park has been removed as a beneficiary.

However, the National Jockey Club, which continues to run a meet each year at Hawthorne Race Course, believes it is still due its money, said Mickey Ezzo, a spokesperson for the IRB.

"We have received the briefs that are due and have received all of the arguments," Ezzo said. "The issue is simply the NJC feels they are entitled to recapture, but the racing board staff is interpreting the statute differently than they are."

Under the law, the IRB has until Jan. 31 of each year to give final approval to the recapture payment.

Meanwhile, a lawsuit filed last January by the Illinois Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association to stop the recapture payment has yet to be heard by the courts. The lawsuit was filed because horsemen previously were reimbursed the recapture payment by the state government. The practice was ended last year to help ease the state budget deficit.

Joe Kasperski, president of the Illinois THA, said it is unlikely the recapture payment would be reimbursed to horsemen again this year.

Recapture is triggered when the total live Illinois handle in any calendar year is less than 75% compared with 1994 total live Illinois handle. Recapture equals 2% of live handle lost at each facility in the state, which includes off-track betting outlets.