New monitor and on line casino proposed for Chicago
A gaggle of buyers needs to construct a racino south of city, about 25 miles from
Hawthorne. However will Hawthorne permit it?
by Neil Milbert
A gaggle of rich buyers, the south suburban Chicago village of Richton Park and state Sen. Invoice Cunningham are attempting to increase a bailout to the house owners, trainers, drivers and breeders of Illinois racetracks struggling to outlive due to the stalled Race Programs program. Hawthorne.
Actual property developer Drew Daniels is a managing member of the conglomerate often called Greenway Leisure Group, and one other member is Roy Arnold, onetime chairman of Arlington Worldwide Racecourse and presently CEO of Endeavor Resort Group.
Greenways plans to construct the mixed racetrack and on line casino on an 80-acre website in Richton Park off Interstate Freeway 57, it was made public throughout a March 23 Illinois Senate govt committee listening to.
Daniels has additionally notified the Illinois Gaming Board that she has the location beneath contract, has drawn up preliminary design and engineering plans for the $300 million improvement and has had a number of conferences with Richton Park elected officers.
Village Supervisor Regan Stockstell issued an announcement saying the village is supportive and the racino presents a big financial improvement alternative [for] within the southern suburbs which ought to be allowed to proceed.
However there may be one legislative hurdle: the Hawthornes’ proper to veto the development of any competing racino inside 35 miles of the monitor. The proposed Richton Park racino falls inside this restrict.
We’ve been in dialog with Senator Cunningham and it has been steered that we go together with the 35 mile rule [to have it eliminated by the legislature] and that is what we did, mentioned Marty Engel, president of the Illinois Harness Horsemen’s Affiliation (IHHA).
The entire thing we have been ready years for renovations at Hawthorne and a second monitor. When the [gambling expansion] The invoice was handed 4 years in the past [permitting six new casinos plus casino gambling at Illinois racetracks with a portion of the revenue earmarked for purses] folks thought it would take a yr or two, however every thing can be superb. Right here we’re 4 years later and nonetheless ready for some signal of more cash.
Senator Cunningham is good.
Horse racing is dying whereas we await a rancho to be inbuilt Hawthorne, he mentioned. So I believe we ought to be open to different choices.
In his letter to the Illinois Gaming Board, Daniels additionally careworn that delays within the Hawthornes’ racino plans have created a big disaster.
We urge the Illinois Gaming Board and the Illinois Basic Meeting to contemplate the lack of income and infinite delays allowed by present regulation and advance another resolution that enables this important and important income to start with out additional inexplicable resistance, he mentioned. Daniels.
Compounding the disaster was the closing of Arlington Worldwide Racecourse by company dad or mum Churchill Downs Inc. (CDI) after the historic and palatial thoroughbred monitor in 2021, leaving the dual-use Hawthorne as the one racetrack within the Chicago metropolitan space.
After lobbying for years for a on line casino gaming license in Arlington, CDI made a splash after buying a 2019 majority curiosity in Rivers On line casino, the state’s most worthwhile on line casino. The monitor is simply 5 miles northwest of Rivers, and apparently CDI did not need Arlington to compete with the money cow.
So CDI closed the Arlington and offered the property to the Chicago Bears for building of a soccer stadium and different redevelopment on the situation that there can be no gaming or casinos on the property. Not solely has that racino competitors been eradicated, nevertheless it has additionally eradicated close by thoroughbred competitors for Rivers for the gaming greenback and crippled each thoroughbreds and horse racing within the state.
Consequently, the IHHA and the Illinois Thoroughbred Affiliation (ITHA) entered right into a timeshare settlement with Hawthorne that started in 2022 with the conferences break up into 4 divisions and continues into 2023 in a unique format. This yr, the thoroughbreds started their meet on March 4 and can proceed to compete till Sept. 4, adopted by Sept. 9-Dec. 31 strap assembly.
To manage the harm brought on by the lengthy layoff, Hawthorne and the IHHA have made preparations to run non-stakes races twice per week from June 12 by way of August. 31 on the Springfield State Fairgrounds, 175 miles south of the monitor. Purse cash totaling about $780,000 will come from the horsemen’s account at Hawthorne, and Hawthorne is footing the $100,000 invoice for working bills.
In 2020, Hawthorne started preliminary demolition work in preparation for rebuilding the monitor right into a $400 million facility scheduled to open in 2021.
Nevertheless, the demolition work has stopped. As a Carey household enterprise with roughly 160 shareholders, Hawthorne needed to restructure to facilitate the Illinois Gaming Boards assessment course of, after which the issues of COVID-19, provide chain points, inflation and excessive rates of interest brought on additional delays. Now, though Hawthorns chairman Tim Carey is struggling to finalize a financing deal, he plans to finish demolition work this yr, construct the state-of-the-art racino and open in 2024.
They’re an enormous household and need whole management [rather than acquiring an existing gaming entity as a financial partner], Engel mentioned. Most locations [in Illinois] they make non permanent casinos [such as ones in downtown Chicago, Rockford and Waukegan near the Wisconsin border] however Hawthorne needs every thing to be excellent once they open their doorways. There isn’t any doubt in my thoughts that the Carey household has nothing however the very best intentions for the trade, however the issue is so nice [horse] individuals are hurting and a few need out of enterprise. Horsemen cannot final for much longer. They’re determined. Purebreds are held by a thread.
So many coaches are up there, age-wise, and so they assume it should be years earlier than something occurs and possibly it is time to retire. Two excellent younger drivers, Kyle Wilfong and Kyle Husted, have bought houses in Indiana. They’ve purchased some Illinois breeds and it’s their intention to race them right here this yr, however I do not know if it will likely be full time. The farmers’ fingers are tied. Are they going for a positive factor and breeding for Indiana, or are they hoping issues will go nicely right here and there might be an enormous demand for Illinois breds?
Former Gov. Jim Edgar sees the state of affairs in the identical mild because the IHHA president. Edgar, who was governor from 1991-1999, is a thoroughbred proprietor and small-scale breeder and has a 2-year-old and 3-year-old harness horse in partnership with Kenneth (Doc) Walker, the states largest thoroughbred breeder.
I have not learn it [proposed] laws [eliminating the 35-mile boundary] so I do not know the small print, however I do know what the issue is, Edgar mentioned. Having just one monitor limits the variety of days accessible for each races. Fewer dates make it extraordinarily tough for any of the races to outlive. For the previous two years I’ve not offered a thoroughbred in Illinois. The variety of colts in Illinois is lowering yearly as a result of folks assume they cannot break even right here with purses that do not examine to these items supplied in different states.
I do know some in authorities assume horse racing is a useless trade, nevertheless it has been confirmed that it may be viable with a mixture of horse racing and casinos. You possibly can have a sustainable racing program that creates plenty of jobs. I do know this from my expertise racing in Indiana. The on line casino invoice may have revived Illinois racing, however nothing occurred. We let an amazing alternative slip by way of our fingers.
IHHA Govt Director Tony Somone predicts on line casino playing in Hawthorne will add as a lot as $12 million to the Hawthorne purse invoice, which is presently about $7 million.
The 2019 playing growth invoice additionally allowed a brand new racetrack/on line casino to be inbuilt one in all Chicago’s seven south suburban municipalities, however Richton Park is in one other municipality.
Later that yr, it appeared that the south suburban racino would turn out to be a actuality when online game operator and developer Rick Heidner and Carey knowledgeable the Illinois Racing Board that they had been partnering to construct the brand new facility at Tinley Park.
An inaugural 2020 assembly from December 6 to 29 with races on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday was awarded by the board within the date hearings.
However then theChicago Tribunedid what Edgar described as a “hatchet” to Heidner by linking a few of his enterprise endeavors to a banking household with alleged ties to organized crime, and Gov. JB Pritzger responded by denying the racino license and recreation dates on the Tinley Park location.
Heidner was later vindicated by the Illinois Gaming Board, however by then the venture was useless.
In line with Engel, Carey expects to reopen a second piece with a on line casino after Hawthorne lastly completes its redevelopment and begins taking part in casinos in 2024.
We wish the Careys to succeed, mentioned the IHHA president. We wish them to renew building. We like. We belief them. We will work with them.
However we will not wait for much longer.