The Illinois legislative session, and possible passage of a gaming bill that would put slots at the state's horse racing tracks, was supposed to end on May 31. Instead, it has been extended into June, with the first scheduled overtime session on Thursday, June 4.
Illinois is facing a budget impasse and a gap of a whopping $3.5 billion. The budget impasse has already affected harness racing by taking funds for county fair racing and sweeping into the budget coffers.
Illinois Harness Horsemen's Association president Dave McCaffrey posted the following update for the IHHA membership on the association website: "How this turns out is completely unknown as we proceed into unchartered waters. There remains a budget impasse and gap of about $3.5 billion; passage of a gaming bill would narrow that gap. There is plenty of friction between the parties in Springfield and it's expected that will only increase in the next couple of weeks as television and radio ads start flying back-and-forth pointing fingers at each other. That probably won't be helpful.
"For those of whom choose to be optimistic and look for hopeful signs, consider this: A bill passed the General Assembly today that directs revenues from a Chicago casino to police and fire pension programs. Between that Chicago pension bill, the Casino Queen purchase of Fairmount Park, the City of Chicago, the entire horse racing industry, and all the other communities that will get casinos, there are a lot of interested parties and several deals riding on the passage of a gaming bill. Hopefully, it will happen in the overtime session."