With a gambling expansion package that includes a plan to allow slot machines at Illinois racetracks expected to be filed later this week in the state legislature, Prairie State horsemen and track officials on Monday gathered at Hawthorne Race Course for a pep rally/news conference.
Included among the gathering was Illinois Horsemen's Association president Dave McCaffrey and Balmoral Park director of special projects Jack Kelly, who said the new slots plan would allow approximately 900 machines to be installed at Balmoral. The plan also calls for a minimum number of live races to be held annually, including 3,500 harness races.
Kelly told the Southtown Star newspaper that if slots aren't approved, Balmoral Park wouldn't totally shut down but "it could be cutting down the season to maybe just the summer or spring, whatever works out." On the other hand, Kelly said if slots are approved, "I could see us adding days, or at a minimum, you're increasing the amount of races and how much horsemen are running for."
Hawthorne president and general manager Tim Carey was also at the rally and added, "Certainly the racing industry needs this at this time, more than ever. It's common sense legislation. We've got to have this bill. Why wouldn't we want to be competitive with surrounding states."