SPRINGFIELD -- State lawmakers began moving legislation intended to prevent massive cuts to the Arlington International Racecourse season by allowing gamblers to keep playing the ponies online.
Legislation approved by a House committee today has been agreed to by officials at Arlington and the rest of the horse racing industry. Previously, the sides had been divided in an argument that could have stalled a proposal.
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The Illinois Racing Board wanted lawmakers to extend betting online before the end of January, when the law allowing it expires, or else it would cut the number racing dates for Illinois tracks.
The legislation considered today extends so-called advance deposit wagering for three years. The committee approved it unanimously with no discussion. The plan is sponsored by state Rep. Bob Rita, a Blue Island Democrat.
Lawmakers still face deadline pressure, though. Their meeting Tuesday is the only one scheduled before the final days of January, just before the Racing Board's deadline.
And lawmakers have got a lot to other things competing for their attention, including a complicated, controversial plan to cut public employee pensions and a proposal to extend tax breaks to Office Depot Inc.