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Illinois casinos suing to block new horse racing tax

By IL Public Radio / KWMU

Springfield, Ill. – It was only signed into law last week, but Illinois' four largest casinos are challenging a law that forces them to share proceeds with the state's horse racetracks.

The suit filed Tuesday says the tax is unconstitutional. It requires the four biggest casinos in Illinois, all in the Chicago area, to give three percent (about $36 million ) of their gaming receipts to the racetracks each year for the next two years.

They allege five downstate riverboats were exempted from the final legislation in order to secure the votes of area lawmakers.

Tom Swoik, of the Illinois Casino Gaming Association, says while he can't comment much on the lawsuit, he says his organization supports it.

He also says it should make other industries wary. "This kind of legislation just shows there's an unstable business climate in the state of Illinois," Swoik said.

"This happens to be with casinos and racetracks, but it could be with any other businesses that are making a profit and are expected to turn over their profits to a less profitable business."

Governor Blagojevich says he signed the legislation because it will save jobs in the racing industry. The casinos are currently paying the tax under protest, but ask in the lawsuit that horse tracks not get that money until there's a legal resolution.

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