Horse Racing | St. Louis Public Radio

Horse Racing

Illinois brought in more tax money from gambling in the fiscal year that ended in June. That’s just one of several highlights from a new report released Monday.


Horses cross the finish line at Fairmount Park Racetrack on July 23. The number of live races at the track will likely increase to 100 because of the gambling expansion bill passed earlier this year.
Eric Schmid | St Louis Public Radio

Fairmount Park Racetrack is filled with spectators on most Tuesdays and Saturdays, eager to watch horses fly down the dirt track.

But with just 41 live racing days this year, the stands at the Collinsville track remain empty far more days than they’re filled.

A recent gambling-expansion law in Illinois could change the track’s fortunes. Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed the bill in June, which was long-sought by the horse racing industry. Racetracks can now apply for licenses to host table games like blackjack and roulette, slots, video gaming and sports betting. 

A jockey rides a horse back past the finish line after a race on opening day at Fairmount Park.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

There were 30 minutes until the first race of the day and the locker room at Fairmount Park Racetrack buzzed with activity. Jockeys flipped through race programs and flicked their whips through the air. Television sets perched on cluttered shelves flashed scenes of the track outside, where fans filled the stands for opening day of the Collinsville racetrack's 91st season.

As announcers counted down in anticipation, the jockeys helped each other tape up aching joints and teased each other playfully. Some said a quick prayer.

Morning headlines: Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Oct 18, 2011
UPI/Bill Greenblatt

Nixon to announce details of China trip

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon says state officials expect to finalize billions of dollars of export agreements during an upcoming trade trip to China. Nixon plans to announce more details of the trip today during a visit to a Cargill soybean processing facility in Kansas City.

The governor said Monday the trip will allow the state to sign export agreements with Chinese agencies and provide a chance for numerous Missouri businesses to close deals with Chinese customers.

Quinn opposes slot machines at racetracks

Oct 17, 2011
(Robert Altman)

Gov. Pat Quinn says he doesn't support slot machines at Illinois racetracks.

Quinn on Monday discussed his objections to a gambling bill passed by lawmakers but not yet sent to him.

Quinn laid out a framework for gambling expansion that includes five new casinos in Chicago, southern Cook County, Lake County, Rockford and Danville.

He says the Illinois Gaming Board should choose the location in Lake County and not the Park City location passed by lawmakers.

Quinn also says he opposes slot machines at Chicago's O'Hare or Midway airports.

(Robert Altman)

$2.6 million dollars is waiting to be distributed to Illinois’ horse racing industry but the law’s wording is keeping that from happening.

More than a decade ago Illinois legislators promised horse tracks 15 percent of the tenth casino’s gross revenue receipts.

That license was caught up in the courts for years.

Finally a new owner opened the Rivers Casino in Des Plaines in July, yet the portion slated for horse racing remains in the state’s Gaming Fund.

Ill. gambling bill still up in the air while horse racing industry gets influx of cash

Aug 11, 2011
(Robert Altman)

A decision by lawmakers to approve a massive expansion of gambling in Illinois has been followed by two months of delay as Gov. Pat Quinn studies the measure and decides where he stands.

Quinn has met with a revolving door of supporters and opponents, but he's given no details on what changes he'd like to see. Skeptical lawmakers continue to use a legislative maneuver to hang onto the bill until Quinn explains what he wants.

Morning headlines: Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Aug 10, 2011
Although the payday loan industry has come under fire for high interest rates and other business practices, supporters say the operations fill a need for people who might not have easy access to money to help pay bills and cover other expenses.
taberandrew | Flickr

Wording approved for Mo. ballot measure limiting payday loans

A group of community and religious leaders is proposing a Missouri ballot measure that would effectively limit the cost of payday loans. The secretary of state's office on Tuesday approved the wording of a proposed ballot summary, allowing supporters to begin a petition drive to put the question on a statewide ballot.

(Robert Altman)

Las Vegas, Atlantic City, and horse tracks used to be the only options for legal gambling.

Then came riverboat casinos.

For years race track owners  in Illinois have asked lawmakers to allow slot machines at their tracks, creating so-called "racinos."

Now all it will take is a signature from Governor Pat Quinn.

But as St. Louis Public Radio’s Maria Altman reports, it’s not a sure thing.