06/25/2008 11:00PM

Illinois casinos file appeal

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Four Illinois casinos filed an 11th-hour appeal Thursday morning of an Illinois Supreme Court decision that would direct millions of dollars of casino revenue to the state's horse racing industry.

The appeal can delay for several months the distribution of about $80 million from an escrow fund into the Illinois racing fund, from which it would be paid to racetrack operators and purses.

The court on June 5 issued a decision that overturned a district court ruling in favor of the casinos, which had filed a lawsuit against the state after a 2006 legislative act directed the casinos to pay 3 percent of their adjusted gross revenue to racing, a so-called impact fee for the erosion in the racing business created by growth of Illinois casino gaming.

Money has been accumulating in an escrow account since the legislation was passed two summers ago. The law in question expired in May, but racing interests are lobbying legislators to extend or make it permanent.