On Monday, Sept. 22, the Illinois Supreme Court rejected an appeal that had been made by Prairie State riverboat factions in June 2008. The appeal by the riverboats was in the form of a motion to reconsider a three percent funding that would have been extracted from Illinois-based riverboat revenues, that would in turn have given approximately $68 million to the Illinois horse racing industry.
Further broken down, that money would have seen approximately $28 million allotted to Illinois racetracks, and $40 million to the purses, with about ten million going to harness purses. That ten million equates to approximately $32,000 in additional monies that would be added to harness racing purses on a daily basis, based on the current six day per week racing schedule.
“The riverboat’s appeal was denied by the Illinois Supreme Court,” IHHA President Dave McCaffrey stated. “Now, the riverboats have approximately 90 days to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, which we expect them to do.”
The IHHA has been united with Illinois Thoroughbred entities and racetrack owners in their support of the three percent riverboat bill, which has now expired. It was a two-year bill originally proposed in June 2006 that expired this past June.
“What this means for Illinois horsemen is that we’re still waiting,” McCaffrey explained. “We have to give the riverboats the opportunity to appeal. It’s the judicial process and is basically a waiting game.”
Illinois horse racing interests now have until approximately Dec. 20 before they can expect any news, and given that the US Supreme Court may be on Christmas break at that time, it could be several more months before they examine the riverboat’s appeal.
“When the US Supreme Court finally looks at the riverboats appeal, they’ll decide whether or not hear it, and if they choose to not hear it, then the whole game is over and we get the money,” McCaffrey revealed. “If they decide to hear it, then the process can continue for many more months.
“I think they’ll throw it (the riverboats appeal) out and we’ll get our money,” said McCaffrey optimistically. “If they decide to hear it than it can go on indefinitely per the judicial system.
“The fact that the Illinois Supreme Court voted 7-0 in our favor is pretty telling,” McCaffrey added. “That fact alone says a lot about our chances.”--By Kimberly Rinker