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Churchill Downs' Arlington Park Jeopardizing Illinois Gaming Expansion.

Arlington Jockeying for Entire iGaming Windfall, Refusing to Share a Dime with Horse Racing

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Illinois, April 22, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- As shareholders of Churchill Downs Inc. gather Tuesday at Arlington Park, the flagship Illinois horse racing track and a CDI property, Arlington is backing legislation at the Illinois Capitol that promises to enrich CDI and Arlington while crippling what remains of Illinois horse racing.

With CDI increasingly focused on casino gaming, Arlington is pursuing the authority for CDI and Arlington to offer poker and other casino-style games over the Internet. But while CDI and Arlington stand to make a fortune from Internet gaming, they would not share a dime of that with purses - the pool of money that supports and drives horse racing.

If Illinois approves this measure and permits CDI and Arlington to capitalize on Internet gaming while offering no benefit to horse racing, Illinois horsemen will only expedite their exodus to other states that allow tracks to supplement purses with revenue from casino-style games. As Arlington has noted in recent years, the scope and quality of Illinois horse racing has already suffered because horsemen naturally migrate to states offering higher purses.

Under Senate Bill 1739, both tracks and advance deposit wagering providers - which facilitate wagering on horse racing over the Internet - would be authorized to operate casino-style games online. Under the same proposal, they would share none of that revenue with purses. Both CDI (through its ADW company, TwinSpires) and Arlington (its track) would be entitled to such licenses.

All three major horsemen groups in Illinois - the Illinois Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association, the Illinois Harness Horsemen's Association, and the Illinois Horsemen Benevolent & Protective Association - oppose this effort to transform tracks and ADW providers into casino gaming empires while providing no benefit for horse racing, the hard-working men and women who make horse racing possible, or the more than 35,000 jobs that Illinois horsemen support. (For additional background, click here.)

Illinois horsemen have long stood by CDI and Arlington as they sought for Arlington to offer slot machines to enhance purses and make Illinois horse racing more competitive. But now that CDI and Arlington recognize the vast potential of Internet gaming - which they could launch with no capital investment - they propose sharing none of that revenue with purses.

Illinois horsemen support allowing tracks and ADW providers to operate Internet gaming as a means to support purses. But tracks would earn this gaming privilege solely because of their association with horse racing. Generating revenue to bolster purses - to save horse racing, preserve jobs, and support Illinois agriculture - is the entire point of letting tracks and ADW providers venture into casino-style gaming.

Unless SB 1739 is amended to require tracks and ADW providers to share Internet gaming revenue with purses, the proposal threatens to radically diminish Illinois horseracing and, in the process, cost thousands of middle class and lower-income workers their jobs, harming the best interests of the state of Illinois and its taxpayers.

The Illinois Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association has for decades represented trainers and owners at Arlington Park and Hawthorne Racecourse, and has nearly 2,500 members. The ITHA is dedicated to ensuring the integrity, safety, and health of those involved in horse racing, and promoting, encouraging and developing all facets of our sport.

Contact: Mike Campbell President, Illinois Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association (708) 683-9456

SOURCE Illinois Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association
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Publication:PR Newswire
Geographic Code:1U3IL
Date:Apr 22, 2013
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