Horse and harness racing industry leaders met with Illinois Senate President John Cullerton for 90 minutes on Monday, May 24. At this meeting Senator Cullerton announced that he would not be calling the "slots at the tracks bill" this week, but he was quick to tell us that help was right around the corner.
He told us that he had political issues that made calling this bill difficult. He cited strong opposition from the riverboat senators as well as complications with taking a vote on a gambling expansion bill in an election year. The tracks and horsemen, in particular, made impassioned pleas, but to no avail.
However, as difficult as this sounds, we can take one very encouraging point from this meeting: Senator Cullerton gave us his word that he is committed to a slots bill and that he will call the bill in the November veto session, after the election. He stated that at that time the political climate will change and he will be prepared to help us push the bill. He also said he would work closely with Speaker of the House Mike Madigan.
Everyone has worked extremely hard, particularly in the last two-three months, to get a good bill worked out. We now have all facets of the industry, as well as many labor unions, on the same page. Senator Cullerton went out of his way to congratulate everyone in the room for getting a bill that was unanimously supported by the racing industry.
The calls that everyonemade have not fallen on deaf ears. They have heard us loud and clear and need to continue to hear us throughout the summer. It is important for everyone to continue to support SB 3146 in its current form and hold senior leadership accountable to call the bill after the election in November in the veto session.
Both harness horsemen and thoroughbred horsemen can take great pride in knowing that we have a solid commitment from Senator Cullerton to endorse and actively support a slots at the track bill. If we can just take one message from Monday's meeting it is that SB 3146 is not dead, it is just on hold until after the election.
Courtesy of the ILLINOIS HORSEMEN'S ASSOCIATION