Clock ticks on online horse betting
I followed up on Mike Spellman's interesting story today about how the number of racing days at Arlington International Racecourse this year could depend on lawmakers' further approval of betting on horses online.
The law allowing Internet gambling on horses in Illinois expired at the end of 2012. It's known as advanced deposit wagering. Spellman explains why that affects Arlington:
It wasn't extended this year until the spring, and it cost the (Illinois Racing Board), which is partially funded by ADW, approximately $750,000 in tax revenues.
If there is another such delay, and there isn't also supplemental funding for this year's lost revenues, the IRB says it will run out of funds to regulate a live racing schedule similar to what it approved for 2013, forcing cuts in live racing to accommodate the shortfall.
The ADW law expires once again in January of 2014. I asked state Rep. Lou Lang, the Skokie Democrat who extended it this year, if it'll be extended again.
He said he hadn't thought about it much yet, but said gambling on horses online is "something we need to keep."
"The racing board actions should give impetus to interest groups and legislators," he said.
Here's where it could get tricky.
Lang said he'd prefer the ADW cause get taken up in greater gambling expansion legislation - the same one that has stalled for years. New casinos. Slots at the tracks. Internet gambling. The works.
"We should take the necessary steps to clean up all gaming issues in the state," Lang said.
It might be tough to do by the racing board's deadline, especially because next year is an election year. Stay tuned.