Illinois: Harness horsemen call for end to Hawthorne’s veto power over new track and casino

Illinois: Harness horsemen call for end to Hawthorne’s veto power over new track and casino

Article brief provided by Chicago Tribune
  • Robert McCoppin, Chicago Tribune
April 11, 2024 3:18 PM
  • Robert McCoppin, Chicago Tribune

Illinois enacted a sweeping law in 2019 to allow casinos at horse racing tracks, known as racinos. Nearly five years later, Hawthorne Race Course, a main beneficiary of the legislation, still hasn’t opened a racino. In the meantime, the industry is dying for lack of money.

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Part of that legislation gave Hawthorne officials an extraordinary monopoly: They have the sole power to veto any proposal to build a harness track with a casino within 35 miles.

Out of desperation, the Illinois Harness Horsemen’s Association is now calling for the state to end Hawthorne’s veto power. The horsemen say the favoritism for Hawthorne has led to a dead end, and it’s time to let the free market finally build a racino.

“Our industry is being held hostage by Tim Carey’s family, who owns Hawthorne,” association President Jeff Davis said. “We have to have a dedicated harness track.”