However, Marc Laino, executive director for the Illinois Racing Board, disputed allegations that the board was using its power to set racing dates to leverage an unreasonable tax increase on the track in the General Assembly. Instead, Laino said the board was merely asking for conditions to be met so it could afford to keep the park open.The tax increase bill, SB 735, is being sponsored by Sen. William Haine of Alton. Haine told the Post-Dispatch he introduced the legislation requested by the Racing Board because the state agency "is holding a gun to the head of Fairmount."
"Recognizing financial crisis, the board was faced with a decision," Laino said. "I thought it was fiscally responsible in using all the financial resources to award days even when it wasn't fiscally feasible."
Laino said Fairmount pays fewer taxes than the four other racetracks and the board can no longer justify the disproportional amount of funds it receives. The park, which is expected to post a net loss of $620,000 to the state in 2010, is the only Illinois thoroughbred track projected to lose money this year.
A bill making its way through the Senate would increase the pari-mutuel tax on Fairmount from 0.5 percent to 0.75 percent, which is still half what the other parks pay. If it passes, all 52 racing days will be restored.
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