SPRINGFIELD -- Gov. Pat Quinn signed into law a proposal that could prevent Arlington International Racecourse's live racing season from being cut in half.
Lawmakers bookended Quinn's noon State of the State address today with two quick votes to move the proposal along, with the Senate approving the measure 47-4 in the morning and the House quickly passing it 95-10 in the moments after Quinn finished speaking. Then, Quinn signed it into law hours later.
The Illinois Racing Board meets Friday to set dates for the season and has laid out a doomsday scenario if the state doesn't extend a law allowing betting on horses online. Today's action extends the law.
Without revenue from online betting on horses, there would not be enough money to run a full racing season at Arlington, the racing board said.
State Sen. Terry Link, a Waukegan Democrat and the sponsor of a plan to extend online horse betting for three more years, said the legislation would prevent a "dramatic cut in racing dates."
Arlington General Manager Tony Petrillo has said an abbreviated season would mean cuts to its 140-member permanent staff and Arlington might need only about half of its usual 2,000 seasonal workers.
"There's a lot of jobs that are dependent on the passage of this legislation," he said.