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updated: 2/9/2011 4:59 PM

Casinos might appeal cash-sharing case to Supreme Court

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  • Suburban casinos including the Grand Victoria in Elgin may go to the Supreme Court over a law that forces them to share part of their revenues with the horse-racing industry.

       Suburban casinos including the Grand Victoria in Elgin may go to the Supreme Court over a law that forces them to share part of their revenues with the horse-racing industry.
    Christopher Hankins | Staff Photographer

 
 

SPRINGFIELD -- Suburban casino officials haven't yet decided if they'll ask the Illinois Supreme Court to review a lower-court decision that requires them to share their revenues with the horse-racing industry.

Illinois law says the state's biggest casinos, in Elgin, Aurora and Joliet, have to share 3 percent of their revenues with horse tracks and racers.

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An appellate court this week said the 2-year-old law was OK. But it's unclear if the casinos will push it further to the state Supreme Court.

"I don't think a decision has been made yet," said Michelle Odorizzi, an attorney for the casinos.

The casinos have been paying their 3 percent share since the law was enacted in December 2008.

But tracks like Arlington Park and the horsemen who race there haven't seen any of that money. It's being held in a special fund pending the outcome of a separate federal lawsuit.

"Unfortunately, it's going to be in the courts," said Arlington Park spokesman Thom Serafin.

The horse-racing industry has argued the casino industry in Illinois has decimated betting at the tracks, and the state's richest casinos owe them a share because of it. Lawmakers have agreed so far, but the money has been tied up in the courts.

So while horse-racing advocated applauded this week's decision, it doesn't do them any good immediately.

"Unfortunately, that's not going to get us the money," said Glen Berman, executive director of the Illinois Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association.

In the meantime, the repeated efforts of Arlington Park and others to get thousands of slot machines at the tracks in order to make money hasn't won approval from state officials.

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