Today, after nearly three years of legal wrangling, the area's only horse track will likely finally receive its state-sponsored bailout paid for by Illinois' richest casinos.
The Belleville News-Democrat reports:
About $7 million sits in a trust account that could be released to Fairmount Park as soon as today to support the horse-racing track and its horseowners.The funds come not a moment too soon as the park has been hemorrhaging money like a grizzled gambling addict futilely trying to "win it all back with one big bet."
Lanny Brooks, executive director of the Illinois Horseman's Benevolent and Protective Association in Collinsville, said a federal judge made the decision to grant a stay of the fund through today. In 2006, then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich signed a bill that amended the Illinois Horse Racing Act of 1975 and required four of the Illinois' nine casinos -- those that gross more than $200 million a year -- to pay an amount equal to 3 percent of adjusted gross receipts into a new trust fund to supplement racing purses and improvements at horse racing tracks across the state over a two-year period. But challenges in court tied up the estimated $89 million in an excrow account. Brooks said those appeals may finally have been exhausted.
The track has been operating with a deficit for the past three years and is reportedly now $2 million in the hole. This past summer the racing season was cut short by more than a month when 18 scheduled dates were dropped because the track didn't have the cash to cover the purses.
The BND reports that the $7 million stimulus will be split equally among the track and horse owners.
Maybe now they can finally fix that video screen.