SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – In a decision that could help save a St. Louis-area horse race track, the Illinois Supreme Court ruled that the state’s four wealthiest riverboat casinos must share their revenue with horse tracks.
The court unanimously rejected the argument by four northern Illinois casinos that they were unfairly targeted in a 2006 law that required a 2-year, 3 percent surcharge on boats with receipts of more than $200 million.
A Will County judge agreed with the casinos’ argument that the law would not have passed had it included downstate casinos in the St. Louis area.
But the Supreme Court overturned that ruling, stating that the casinos failed to prove there was any difference between the Chicago-area and downstate casinos.
The ruling means $79 million will be divided among Illinois’ five horse tracks – Fairmount Park, Arlington Park, Hawthorne Race Course, Balmoral Park and Maywood Park.
Fairmont Park, 12 miles east of St. Louis, has cut its racing season from 90 to 60 days due to budget constraints. Fairmont officials told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch they expect to receive $7 million from the ruling, which can be used for operating expenses and prize money. Fairmont spokesman Jon Sloane said the revenue will help keep the park in business while lawmakers debate gaming measures that could offer a more permanent source of revenue for the horse racing industry.