Columbus, OH --- The Illinois House failed on Tuesday night (Jan. 11) to call for a vote on SB 737, the gaming expansion bill that would have included slots at the state’s race tracks.
Illinois Harness Horsemen's Association president Dave McCaffrey posted the following on the IHHA website.
"There aren't sufficient words to describe how horribly the Illinois horse industry was treated Tuesday night. We feel we have been lied to, double crossed and put away wet.
"Here's how Tuesday's actions unfolded: All morning horse industry leaders and lobbyists visited offices of Representatives garnering every last vote we could. At 3 p.m., House sponsor Representative Lou Lang joined our strategy meeting and informed us that we could be in for a late night and that it was his understanding that the gaming bill would be called for a vote right after the tax increase bill.
"(The real sad part of this whole thing is that we had our last practice roll call at 6 p.m. and it showed us having 65 votes. 60 was a winner. I never revealed that fact on this site because I didn't want to get hopes up too high.)
"So, after the tax increase passed, we, as a group, (IHHA, ITHA, race track owners, lobbyists, unions, etc.) were all together watching from the balcony of the House understanding that our bill was next to be called. The next thing you know, the House adjourns and, as a result, our bill dies.
"There are only a select few who really know what happened. Most Senators and Reps don't know what happened. In fact, Senator Terry Link, a Waukegan Democrat (who sponsored the bill in the Senate), said in an article in the Arlington Herald, that he was disappointed the legislation was not pushed and did not know why state Rep. Lou Lang failed to call it for action in the House. “Here was $1 billion that could have helped alleviate a lot of problems in the state, and it was within minutes of being passed,” Link said. “And for some various reason, that I have no knowledge of, it wasn't called.”
"With those things said, I also can't tell you exactly what happened. What I can unequivocally say is everyone that took part in this effort deserves a HUGE thank you. Our membership lit up phone lines. Our membership changed votes. Our membership won votes that were previously un-winnable. Our membership did all they could to save the game. All along, I said that if we lost, but fought our hardest, we should feel proud and I'm proud to say that the effort was INCREDIBLE. Unfortunately, for whatever reasons far beyond our control, it didn't work out for us."