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Gloom and doom

Tuesday, Apr 29, 2008

* The problem

[Illinois] State government collected just less than $9 million in horse racing tax revenue last year. That’s down 14 percent from 2006 and only a fraction of the $40-plus million a year collected throughout the 1990s.

* A proposed solution…

It’s actually unclear whether Internet betting is illegal under Illinois law, but tracks aren’t willing to press their luck because a 2000 attorney general opinion noted state law doesn’t expressly authorize it.

Now some lawmakers are trying to help Arlington and other tracks by setting up a licensing system for [advance deposit wagering] vendors, with profit-sharing guidelines to keep more betting money in Illinois and ensure owners, horsemen and the state get their share.

“It’s not something that we love to see, but we have no choice but to get it for our tracks,” said Rep. Bob Molaro, the Chicago Democrat pushing the idea in the House. “We have to do this to survive.”

* This idea has been shot down before, and the horsemen aren’t thrilled with it…

Steve Brubaker of the Illinois Harness Horsemen’s Association said his members worry the new betting system might not bring in new patrons and could let track owners take even more purse money at horsemen’s expense.

* And the proposal is coming at a time of extreme legislative gridlock

At the beginning of the year, Republicans and Democrats alike talked highly of spending $25 billion to fix roads, bridges and schools, as well as put thousands to work.

But as April comes to an end and lawmakers are scheduled to have a state budget done by the end of May, some have seen that optimism diminish.

‘’I don’t feel as good now as when I first came in,'’ state Sen. Gary Forby, D-Benton, said of the prospects of such a plan.

State Rep. Patrick Verschoore, D-Milan, said he felt good in January about the chances to get construction money. But the past several months have brought more infighting among Democrats who control state government and have the most power to shape such a plan.

* And

Illinois won’t have passed a budget by the end of May, state Sen. Dan Rutherford predicted today to a Pontiac audience… No capital-improvements bill will be passed by the General Assembly, he also predicted.

* But there are lots of pressures on lawmakers to at least try and get something done. For instance

The Lawrence County Soil & Water Conservation District closes its doors today, “The district will continue to operate as a Soil & Water Conservation district but will have no staff available to work with landowners,” says Rich Nichols, the executive director of the Associatio of Illinois Soil and Water Conservation Districts.

Nichols says there are already waiting lists for programs those districts provide, “Which means we anticipate there’ll be quite a bit of federal money returned. It just will not be able to be spend.”

So, your guess is as good as mine. Go ahead an make your guesses in comments.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

9 Comments
  1. - He Makes Ryan Look Like a Saint - Tuesday, Apr 29, 08 @ 10:26 am:

    More reasons we need to take the power out of a few hands and give it back to the body. The Governor and Legislators are showing the public the best reasons to vote for a Con Con.
    From the GOP point of view the Democrats are blowing it and all this lack of progress will be used against them in the upcomming elections.


  2. - OneMan - Tuesday, Apr 29, 08 @ 10:49 am:

    September 23rd, 2008


  3. - GA Watcher - Tuesday, Apr 29, 08 @ 11:00 am:

    The Judge in the Rezko trial said yesterday that she expects final arguments to begin around May 12-13. A verdict should be handed down, then, by May 20. Given how things have gone so far, I believe Speaker Madigan and others are perfectly content to let the trial play out to see just how much it further emasculates the Governor. Don’t expect there to be much action on a budget or a capital bill until at least after the trail ends.


  4. - Amuzing Myself - Tuesday, Apr 29, 08 @ 1:32 pm:

    I can’t fathom any kind of real progress until this governor is gone - either by election in 2010 or some other law-and-order remedy before that.

    With the atmosphere so poisoned between himself and Madigan and Emil spitting on decades of statesmanship in the way leaders deal with each other by lying to Madigan last year, I see no motivation for Madigan to do anything but let the other two sink in their own mess.

    I’m not a Madigan fan, but he appears to be the only thing close to a statesman left in power in Illinois these days. He can do what he needs to do for his targets and his daughter’s future - maybe try to pick up a couple of seats in a potential Obama tide - while keeping his distance from the guv and Emil.

    In a blue state in a Presidential Election year, any threat to his majority is slim to non-existent. Emil has attached himself and his caucus at the hip to an administration that seems at the very brink of total disaster. I see VERY little incentive for Madigan to cut any deals at this point.

    In short, continued total gridlock and the first opportunity in a long, long time for the GOP in 2010 if they can ever get their act together as a party.


  5. - Wild Bill - Tuesday, Apr 29, 08 @ 1:34 pm:

    Does this mean all the dirt will move to IN, WI, KY, MO or IA?


  6. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Apr 29, 08 @ 1:53 pm:

    I think GA Watcher makes a good point about everyone waiting the outcome of the Rezko trial. That’s the 800 pound gorilla in the room.

    If Rezko’s convicted, the governor is finished. Coupled with the Atta conviction, it will lead to impeachment by the House after the election and a trial by the Senate (yes, there would be a trial in the Senate; public outcry would demand it).

    If Rezko’s convicted, the Senate will have to come to an accommodation with the House. The House will enact a stiff price due to last year’s betrayal, but it will have to be paid.


  7. - Horse Shoes and Hand Grenades - Tuesday, Apr 29, 08 @ 1:54 pm:

    Arlington (Duchissois) fought telephone and internet based account wagering for years; until last year when they finally decided to start their own, and to buy other existing companies that provided the service, and merge them into theirs to accelerate growth in wagering dollars on their platform. Now all of a sudden they think its a great idea, and in fact the companies they purchased appear to be skirting the AG’s opinion as it is now anyway.

    Horsemen’s groups across the country in the last several weeks have also banded together to fight the current distribution of parimutuel wagering dollars from advanced deposit (internet) wagering. Their contention is that too much of the wagering dollars generated from this avenue are being reinvested into purses, which is the revenue source relied upon by the horse owners and trainers to cover their expenses and make their living.

    Under federal law, (Interstate Horse Racing Act) the host race track can not send out their broadcast satelite signal and accept wagers via telephone or internet wagering service, unless their is a contract in place approved by the organization representing the horsemen at the racetrack which wants to send out its broadcast satelite signal. The individual state horsemen’s organizations have banded together nationally, and are currently probiiting the broadcast signals form being distributed at Calder (owned by Churchill Downs-Duchissois), and Churchill Downs in Kentucky as well. An agreement signed several years ago precludes them from blocking the distribution of the signal for the Kentucky Derby itself, but all the other races that day could (and as of right now) will be blocked.

    Churchill Downs (Duchissois) has sued the national and Florida horsemen’s organization in federal court in western Kentucky, alleging anti-competitive behavior under the Sherman anti Trust Act. They are seeking an injunction to require disbandment of the national horse owners organization, and preclude the horse individual state groups from establishing uniform national pricing as to the distribution of the wagering dollars they receive from this avenue of wagering.

    Parimutuel wagering on horse races in Illinois right is anti-competitive, in several ways under the exisiting statute and has been protectionist for the benefit of the oligopoly of the current licensed track operators.

    Under Churchill Downs standard, the proposed legislation which would allow advanced deposit (internet & phone) wagering in Illinois would also be anti-competitive , because it too would establish a uniform maximum fee that licensed host tracks in Illinois could charge advanced deposit wagering company providers for their broadcast signal. The proposed law also establishes a uniform distribution of the wagering proceeds retained by the licensed track operator, between the track operator and the purse accounts for the benefit of the horsemen’s organizations.

    How can Churchill Downs be supportive of this proposed law locally, yet be fighting something similar in federal court that is being proposed to them independently through negotiation with the representatives of the horsemen?

    I am not sure how they can fight something at the federal level, and yet support essentially the
    same thing on a local level.


  8. - Lil - Tuesday, Apr 29, 08 @ 5:52 pm:

    As long as they yahoos spend their time on recall, impeachment and whatever else they think will get them in the paapers, nothing will get done.


  9. - annon - Tuesday, Apr 29, 08 @ 5:57 pm:

    As I’ve said here many, many times just more of the same from the inept Blago & Co. It’s a disgrace !


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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