EAST MOLINE – A bill now sits on Illinois Governor Pat Quinn’s desk which would bring horse racing back to the Quad City Downs. Horse racing used to run there until 1993.
“This parking lot used to be full,” East Moline Mayor John Thodos said. “You had the jockey apartments. You had your horse barns. The stands were all full.”
But now ‘The Downs’ just has off track betting and no live horses. There’s also grass growing out of the ground and rusted walls near the track.
“Once the boats came, we lost all the revenue,” Thodos said.
Thodos is referring to Casino Rock Island which came about in March of 1992. The casino is now called Jumer’s at the current location. Sure enough in 1993, horse racing stopped at the Quad City Downs.
“I’m not saying that Rock Island shouldn’t have what they have,” Thodos said. “But it did come at our expense.”
Now the Illinois Senate is trying to bring horse racing back again. Late Thursday night, the Senate passed a bill which would bring horse racing back to the Quad City Downs. Now, Quinn has to sign it though.
“It’s just not quite yet soup,” State Senator Mike Jacobs said on why he voted no on the bill. “When it’s ready to be soup, we’ll cook. That’s what I do.”
Jacobs wants the casino companies to bring more into the Quad City Downs than just slot machines and horse racing. He also says ‘The Downs’ and Jumer’s may not even be directly competing.
“I still think that there’s a better deal to be had,” Jacobs said.
Horse racers are optimistic that Quinn will sign the bill into law this year. On May 23, Quinn said, “As long as I’m governor, I will not support a gambling bill that falls well short of protecting the people of Illinois.”