The Illinois Senate on Tuesday advanced SB7, the much anticipated big gaming bill, which would allow slots at the racetracks. Originally this bill was problematic for us because of our loss of Maywood and Balmoral but we were able to add “successor language” which would allow for new racinos to be built. The Senate voted 31-26 in favor of the bill, providing one more vote than the 30 votes necessary for passage.
The bill now goes over to the House chamber, where we are anticipating many more changes, a few of those that we will be seeking ourselves. Then it must return to the Senate for concurrence and then ultimately the Governor must agree.
Regarding the horse racing piece of the bill, it is very similar to the ones that we passed years ago. It still includes the agreed upon percentage of the slots revenue earmarked for purses, the elimination of recapture and the guarantee of live racing opportunities.
We should also keep in mind that this bill is part of the “grand bargain” which includes 13 other bills that need to be passed as well. Legislators are calling it an all or nothing deal. So the hurdles still exist. It’s not as simple as going out and getting the votes for passage. That is certainly part of it, but not the end all.
We are encouraged by this development but history has taught us not to get ahead of ourselves. We will continue to do everything in our power to try and advance this crucial piece of legislation. We will keep everyone informed as this continues to untangle. But hold onto your hats, the next three months should be a roller coaster.