Bill to Resurrect IL Horse Racing Dies at Governor’s Hand

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Citing a lack of oversight today Illinois Governor Pat Quinn struck down legislation that would allow slot machines at horse tracks…

Many believed the legislation would have saved the states dying horse industry, but Quinn says “Illinois should never settle for a gaming bill that includes loopholes for mobsters.”

For horsemen like East Moline’s Dallas Armstrong today’s news is tough to swallow.

He’d hoped the bill would pass, and live horse racing would return to our area.

“A lot of times when I was racing horses I used to take them across my property right over to the Downs, I didn’t even have to trailer them,” says Armstrong.

Live racing used to be life blood of Armstrong’s neighbor, the Quad Cities Downs, but as prize money dried up, it got tougher and tougher to entice racers to come to East Moline.

Illinois horse racing industry hoped that expanded gambling, and slot machines would mean more prize money at tracks around the state, and in turn, a reason for racers to come back.

Armstrong says if this bill had gone through his farm would have grown immensely, to the point that he’d have had to hire at least 12 more employees.

“You have a lot of horse people, the grain companies, the farmers, the hay. It has a real impact,” says Armstrong.

“I have a big operation here, I have 50 some horses. It’s constant where I have four trucks going and I’m getting fuel all the time, every truck every time I turn around its $100,” says Armstrong.

There’s very few people left in Illinois’ horse racing industry, most have moved on to greener pastures, states that allow expanded gambling at horse tracks.

Armstrong says he’s not leaving, but he’s definitely in the minority.

“I’ve been here 35 years, so I’m planning on staying here, but if we could get the race track going that’d be a real plus,” says Armstrong.

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