The future of Arlington International Racecourse's 2014 season -- and perhaps beyond -- is going right down to the wire.
A day after a House committee approved a three-year agreement reached by a unified racing industry to extend advanced deposit wagering -- an agreement that would help fund the Illinois Racing Board and assure that racing resumes as normal in 2014 -- the legislation was not brought for a vote Tuesday as state lawmakers in Springfield instead passed pension reform before adjourning.
"We were hopeful there would have been action taken on ADW," Arlington general manager Tony Petrillo said of Senate Bill 66. "We feel the legislature understands the need for an industry that's vital for Illinois."
The legislature will have just one day to prove that it does because the current legislation allowing advanced deposit wagering is scheduled to elapse at midnight on Jan. 31, 2014, and the legislature is not scheduled to reconvene again until a one-day session on Jan. 29.
In the past, however, the legislature has set aside that day solely for the annual state of the State address and not convened to pass legislation.
If there is no action taken on the 29th, a doomsday scenario outlined by the Illinois Racing Board could kick in, one that would cut Arlington's 2014 meet nearly in half and decimate the schedules of other thoroughbred and harness tracks around the state.
While it promises to be a nail-biting finish, Petrillo said Arlington and the racing industry as a whole will spend the next two months doing everything it can to improve the odds of getting the legislation passed.
"Arlington will continue to work with the legislative leaders for a bill that can be quickly passed and sent to the governor when the legislature reconvenes at the end of January," he said.