Audit: Racing industry waiting for millions


Share
Originally Posted Online: April 25, 2013, 2:40 pm
Last Updated: April 26, 2013, 9:27 am
Comment on this story | Print this story | Email this story

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Illinois lawmakers never changed state law to allow the transfer of tens of millions of dollars due to the state's horse racing industry, so the money is sitting unused in a Gaming Board account, an audit released Thursday found.

Money from a riverboat casino that opened in Des Plaines nearly two years ago is generating the money — according to horse racing officials, more than $115 million so far that was supposed to alleviate casino wagering's impact on horse tracks.

Auditor General William Holland's report of the Des Plaines boat's gross receipts, said 15 percent is supposed to go to a Horse Racing Equity Fund and 2 percent to Chicago State University. The audit through June 2012 found $59 million owed to the horse racing fund and $7.9 million due Chicago State.

Nearly $120 million in horse racing money has accumulated, officials said.

"The horsemen have been trying to break that money loose since it started flowing in there," said Andrew Mack, a representative of the Illinois Harness Horsemen's Association.

The Gaming Board responded in the audit that it is working with Gov. Pat Quinn's administration to fix the problem.

Horse racing industry authorities have watched a steady decline in a once-prosperous sport in Illinois since riverboat casinos debuted in 1992. Mack said purses totaled $41.7 million two decades ago; last year, they topped out at $24.3 million.

Supporters have clamored for more than a decade because when riverboats were allowed to remain docked, impact fees they say should total $100 million a year were supposed to be set aside for racing have never materialized.

By the middle of the last decade, they had been able to win 3 percent of some casino revenues, but it turned out to be a short-lived victory, because that money was scheduled to end either when Des Plaines opened, or the Legislature approved a law allowing racetracks to add slot machines, said Glen Berman, executive director of the Illinois Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association.

Quinn vetoed two gambling expansion bills from 2011 and 2012 that included so-called "racinos" — the Senate is considering a third attempt this spring — and the money from Des Plaines never got distributed.

"It seems like there's always a catch," Berman said.

And there's no guarantee all the money will ever get to the racing industry. Legislation in the last session of the General Assembly would have transferred $17. 6 million from the state gaming fund to the Horse Racing Equity Fund and $70.4 million to a schools fund. Horse racing officials fear that legislation will resurface with the state facing budget problems.

___

Online: http://www.auditor.illinois.gov














 



Local events heading








  Today is Wednesday, July 30, the 211th day of 2014. There are 154 days left in the year.
1864 -- 150 years ago: After Sept. 1, every small box of matches will be required to have a 3 cent duty Lincoln stamp on it, and every large box will be one cent for every 100 matches.
1889 -- 125 years ago: Rock Island residents had contributed a total of $1,293 to the American Red Cross for the Johnstown flood relief fund.
1914 -- 100 years ago: Capt. Clark Means, new darkhorse twirler for the ARGUS staff, was in great form in his initial contest as a mound laborer. The result was that THE ARGUS trimmed the Union 6-5.
1939 -- 75 years ago: Hunter and Humprey Moody, young Decatur, Ill, brothers, lack only a few hours of establishing a new world light plane endurance record.
1964 -- 50 years ago: Gates of the 110th annual Mercer County Fair swing open tonight at Aledo for a full week of day and night activity. More that $36,000 will be paid in premiums and race purses.
1989 -- 25 years ago: The baseball field carved out of the cornfield near Dyersville, Iowa, continues to keep dreams alive for hundreds of visitors. Tourists from 26 state and France have visited Dan Lansing's farm to see the baseball diamond seen in the hit movie "Field of Dreams."






(More History)