Uncertainty reigned Tuesday after the Illinois Racing Board drafted the 2014 thoroughbred and harness racing schedules.
Taking into account the possibility that funds may not be available to enable the Racing Board to regulate racing, Chairman William Berry made a motion to approve four alternative schedules and it passed by an 8-1 vote.
•Under the best-case scenario, the 2014 schedule will bear a striking resemblance to the 2013 slate with 466 dates at the state’s five pari-mutuel tracks.
•Under the worst-case scenario, next year’s schedule will bear no resemblance to this year’s thoroughbred and harness dates, consisting of a combined total of 87 programs and leaving the state with only one harness track. [Emphasis added.]
Not mentioned in the Trib’s dot points is that the “best-case scenario” includes a “supplemental state payment” of at least $725,000.
* The problem has been the lack of Internet wagering income for over five months this year and uncertainty over next year…
The board depends on account-wagering handle for part of its funding and lost about $725,000 when the law permitting account-wagering companies to operate in Illinois was allowed to expire Jan. 31 and wasn’t restored until June 7. Unaltered, the law expires again on Jan. 31, so the board can’t know if it will have enough money to fulfill its statutory obligations for a full racing season.
The board will request a supplemental payment from the state to plug the hole left by the 2013 account-wagering shutdown, and the legislature, when it meets for a fall session starting Oct. 22, will be asked to extend the account-wagering law. How racing is conducted next year in Illinois depends on how much of that money actually flows to the IRB. Because of the uncertainty the board approved four possible schedules.
What a screw up this was.
* In other news, Phil Kadner looks at video gaming’s growth…
There now are 9,794 [video gaming] machines operating at 2,402 locations, according to the Illinois Gaming Board, which is the equivalent of adding nine casinos. […]
But an entirely new industry has emerged in recent months, video cafes, designed specifically to appeal to the gambler.
Although most of these offer food and alcoholic drinks, they’re marketed as places where suburbanites can lose their money in comfortable surroundings without being bothered by drunks.
Oak Lawn Mayor Sandra Bury is so concerned about the increase in video gambling in her village that she has asked the state senator from the area to introduce legislation that could limit the number of locations.
Oak Lawn appears to be the leader in the Southland in the number of sites with video gambling, having 18 locations and 83 video machines.
In August, gamblers lost $319,338 in the machines, producing $15,966 in tax revenue for Oak Lawn and $79,834 for the state.
I was talking with somebody who owns several locations that have video gaming machines, and he said he hopes the Legislature passes a bill to limit the number of new machines and locations. Why? Because such a law would mean less competition for him.
* Back to Kadner…
I’ve always been a free-market guy when it comes to legalized gambling. So long as the operations have no ties to organized crime and the machines pay off as advertised, I think they should be allowed to proliferate.
By limiting the number of casinos, all the state has done is give a small group of people a license to make lots of money.
Now, they have some competition in video gambling, and businesses in the suburbs are getting a piece of the action.
But the law of supply and demand is still being denied by elected officials, who seem to believe they can limit vice by tightly regulating it.