01/28/2015 4:53PM

Arlington purse structure to take a hit


The Illinois Racing Board, a body in transition as new Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner sets up his administration, certified recapture amounts for racetracks in 2015, which is likely to result in significantly lower purses for the Arlington meet. The board also approved Hawthorne’s request to reduce the Illinois Derby’s purse from $500,000 to $400,000 during a meeting Tuesday in Chicago.

The board currently has no chairman, as William Berry, the previous chairman and a Democrat, will be replaced by Rauner’s Republican administration. Marc Laino was named chairman for one day in order to conduct Tuesday’s meeting, but Laino, the board’s longtime executive director, retired from his post effective Jan. 1, and the board also is without an executive director. The 11-member board still has four vacancies even after Arlene Mulder, the former mayor of Arlington Heights, and Robert Lunt, a veterinarian, were appointed this week.

The board’s main order of business Tuesday was certifying 2015 recapture amounts for the state’s racetracks. Recapture became law upon the advent of full-card simulcasting here and was meant to compensate track operators for the migration of betting on live races to distant simulcast signals and the accompanying loss of revenue. Arlington will receive $4,242,698 in recapture money this year, Hawthorne $2,598,999, and Fairmount Park $1,774,120.

The money is deducted from the track purse accounts, which has long infuriated horsemen here, many of whom believe recapture is destroying the Illinois purse structure, though track operators claim recapture money is required for operational expenses.

Arlington, according to board staff calculations, was forecast before recapture deductions to pay only about $231,000 in purses during its 2015 racing season, despite the fact that the meet will be reduced to two- and three-day racing weeks this year. Recapture deductions will trim that total substantially, and – if nothing changes before the meet begins in May – that will lead to a purse structure significantly lower than in 2014.

For three years, Arlington subsidized purses with money from a state-imposed impact fee on several casinos, but that money is now gone. Absent the impact-fee funds, Hawthorne this past fall and winter offered its lowest purses in decades.

Meanwhile, the board also approved Hawthorne’s bare-bones spring 2014 stakes schedule, including the Illinois Derby purse reduction.

Jerry Turner More than 1 year ago
Arlington's schedule for 2015 is for 3 and 4 racing days per week not the 2 and 3 days per week this article states.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What do you expect from a dying state that does not allow gambling losses to be deducted?
Robin More than 1 year ago
Good ole Churchill Inc, stronger than Kryptonite and Cancer combined
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
We've been waiting for the Arlington condos Now here they come !!
Jim Dettmann More than 1 year ago
There are 10 casinos in Illinois, which average 1100 slot machines each. The casinos claim that their revenue is dropping. That must mean that some of those slots are idle. Let's pull 100 slots from each casino and put them at Arlington, where they will produce some revenue.
Robert Potter More than 1 year ago
Horses,trainers,and jockeys will be pretty scarce with 2 and 3 day racing weeks. Geez, things can't get much worse..can they?
Walter More than 1 year ago
Illinois is the ONLY state in the Union that imposes a surcharge on winning bets at inter track and OTB locations. This surcharge is 2.5%! Horseplayers, this is an additional 2.5% takeout from your bets. Where does this money go? It totals tens of millions of dollars each year and has been going on since 1987. illinois steals from its citizens in so many ways, this is just one more.
Chris Lowe More than 1 year ago
Ny OTB's take 6% unless you bet through their ADW online.
cherney19 More than 1 year ago
If another idiot Governor is not going to allow the 2 tracks to have live poker and slots they might as well close racing down in Illinois. The state is already voted the worst state in America, might is well keep the tradition going. Lose another 500 jobs and added revenue and close another industry.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
You would be losing a lot more than 500 jobs! It would be over 5,000 at least.