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Support horse racing

Published: Saturday, Jan. 25, 2014 5:30 a.m. CDT

To the Editor:

Illinois legislators will reconvene in Springfield on Wednesday to hear Gov. Pat Quinn’s State of the State address.

It also is imperative that they pass legislation allowing Advance Deposit Wagering. ADW allows horse racing fans to bet on horse races online. This is not a new law. ADW has been legal since 2009 but is due to sunset Jan. 31. A percentage of ADW wagers fund the Illinois Racing Board, which regulates horse racing.

Without ADW funds, the IRB cannot sufficiently carry out its responsibilities. Consequently, harness racing would see a 95 percent reduction in racing dates, going from racing 251 days in 2013 to 13 days in 2014. Such dramatic cuts will effectively kill Illinois horse racing and the thousands of jobs it creates.

We simply want to do what we love and earn an honest paycheck. But this bill, which is supported unanimously in the horse racing industry, must pass first.

Illinois horse racing employs more than 15,000 men and women, including drivers, trainers, bartenders, blacksmiths and more. These are real jobs throughout Illinois.

It is reasonable to assume then that the Illinois General Assembly would be eager to promote and nurture an industry that provides revenue and jobs in a state that is hungry for those things.

Our racing season is scheduled to begin Feb. 5. We urge all lawmakers to encourage leadership to call this critical piece of legislation on Wednesday and show your support with a “yes” vote.

Casey Leonard

Harness driver, Harvard

Dave McCaffrey

President

Illinois Harness Horseman’s Association 

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