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Forum: Lawmakers need to save harness racing

Updated: March 3, 2014 3:05PM



When Illinois legislators reconvene today to hear the State of the State address, they must also pass legislation allowing Advance Deposit Wagering, which permits online betting on horse races. ADW has been legal since 2009 but is due to end Friday.

ADW wagers help finance the Illinois Racing Board, which regulates horse racing. Without ADW funds, the board cannot sufficiently carry out its duties, which would mean a drastic reduction in harness racing dates from 251 in 2013 to just 13 this year — effectively killing the sport here and its thousands of jobs.

We are not asking for a handout. We want to do what we love and earn a paycheck. But this bill, supported unanimously in the horse racing industry, must pass first.

Illinois horse racing employs roughly 15,000 men and women — from trainers and drivers to blacksmiths and breeders to waiters, bartenders, tellers and more. The Legislature surely wants to promote and nurture an industry that provides revenue and jobs in a state hungry for them.

Dave McCaffrey

President, Illinois Harness Horseman’s Association



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