The recent bill passed in Illinois to grow casino gambling and introduce sports betting is essentially going to save horse racing at Fairmount Park, the president of the track said this week.
Brian Zander joined Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker at a Fairmount Park event to unveil tentative plans and provide more details about the racetrack's future.
“Essentially it's really going to save the place,” Zander said of plans to add slot machines, casino games and sport betting. The track is proposing to spend at least $50 million on new facilities, and according to Pritzker, Fairmount Park's slate of racing dates will likely increase from 41 to 100 per year.
“More horses, more races, more days — and that means more jobs to this area,” Pritzker said.
Meanwhile, Hawthorne Park in Chicago plans to cancel its spring meet in 2020 so it can build new gaming and sports betting facilities, according to the BloodHorse.
“This is going to be a hardship for Thoroughbred horsemen,” David McCaffrey, executive director of the Illinois Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association, told BloodHorse. “But it's a short-term pain, long-term gain situation, and Hawthorne has pledged to work with us while we get through it.”
Fairmount and the Chicago tracks have been pushing for years to expand gambling in Illinois. At this week's event, Zander said without the new casino options, eventual closure of Fairmount Park would have been a possibility.
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