Thursday January 17, 2013 : TROUBLE FOR ILLINOIS ONLINE HORSE RACING
State law has expired, but major companies continue to accept AWD
Illinois politicians dropped the ball during the state legislature's last session, allowing a law permitting online horse betting to expire and failing to renew it. Consequently, the Illinois Racing Board could not renew betting company licenses.
The omission has resulted in a clash between the Board and major betting companies Xpressbet and TwinSpires, two of the four formerly licensed companies for online horse race wagering in the state, which are still allowing their Illinois users to place bets on horse races.
The Board has warned the two firms to stop, so far without compliance, says IRB manager Micky Ezzo, who told local media that TwinSpires is owned by Churchill Downs, a large horse racing company that also owns Arlington Park Racetrack and the Kentucky Derby.
Neither Churchill Downs nor Xpressbet has commented in the situation.
According to preliminary numbers from the IRB's forthcoming annual report, the four licensed companies made just over $122 million in revenue in 2012. The report also stated that the state made $1.8 million in taxes from that amount.
The Daily Herald newspaper reports that in December, the Racing Board sent a letter to the four companies warning them that they would have to discontinue service for their Illinois customers should the legalization fail to be renewed before the end of the session January 9.
The Racing Board has since posted a notice on its website that online gambling on horse racing in the state is now "prohibited," and has reported TwinSpires' and Xpressbet's actions to the state attorney general's office.
The attorney general's office has yet to take any legal action on the matter. "We are talking with the Racing Board and discussing the state's options," Maura Possley, the press secretary for the attorney general's office, said.
There are still several weeks to go before politicians return to their duties and may be in a position to rectify the situation.