12/20/2011 5:04PM

Illinois approves Twinspires.com license


The Illinois Racing Board on Tuesday approved licenses for all major account-wagering operators in the state, one month after delaying the decision because of concerns over a dispute between jockeys and Churchill Downs Inc., the owner of Twinspires.com.

In approving the licenses, Marc Laino, the executive director of the board, said that commissioners were “encouraged” to hear that officials for the Jockeys’ Guild and Churchill have renewed discussions on the source of the dispute, which centers on whether Churchill will make voluntary contributions to the Guild.

The approval follows a similar decision on Thursday by the California Horse Racing Board, which granted Twinspires.com a “conditional” four-month license after officials for the Guild and Churchill told the board they had agreed to talk. The two sides met on Monday in Louisville for the first time, and though no deal was reached, they agreed to talk again in January.

The licenses in Illinois were approved through Aug. 25, 2012, when enabling legislation for account-wagering in the state is due to expire. Legislators are expected to renew the legislation sometime next year.

In contrast to California, commissioners in Illinois said that they could not tie approval of the license applications to a company’s support of riders, citing a 1972 Supreme Court decision in the state that said racetracks and regulatory agencies cannot set mount fees, Laino said.

“There are no conditions on the approvals,” Laino said. “The board recognizes that the 1972 case means we have no authority to establish fees or compensation for riders.”