Illinois Horse Racing

State Week logo (capitol dome)
Brian Mackey

This week, rallies at the statehouse over gun rights and abortion; still more questions about legalized sports betting; and despite the launch of a new awreness campaign, another State Trooper killed by a semi-trailer on the highway.

Mary Hansen / NPR Illinois

On a recent Tuesday afternoon, John Lucas and his granddaughter, McKenna, bet on Saber Rattler at the Fairmount Park Racetrack in Collinsville.

"If she wins this, it'll be the third race in a row she's won," says Lucas as they watch the horses round the final stretch of the track. Saber Rattler came in second.

Lucas has been visiting the track outside of St. Louis a few times a year since the 1980s, traveling across the Illinois border from O'Fallon, Missouri.

Lucas has noticed the steady downturn in fortunes for the track.

Paul Kehrer via Flickr

Twenty years ago, horses competed more than 100 days during the thoroughbred racing season at Fairmount Park in Collinsville.

That number has been slowly dwindling for years, and track officials got approval this month from the Illinois Racing Board to shorten its planned season by several days, to 36 days. The season was supposed to end September 22nd, but the last horses will compete on Labor Day.

MATT ALANIZ ON UNSPLASH

Talks to legalize sports betting in Illinois have heated up after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a federal ban last week.

State Week logo (capitol dome)
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

Illinois government continues limping through its partial shutdown.  This week, the Illinois State Museum was shuttered, the secretary of state announced he won’t be reminding you when to renew your license plates, and at least one state facility has had the water shut off.  Could a revolt among rank-and-file legislators break the stalemate?  Brian Mackey talks about that and more with Amanda Vinicky, Jamey Dunn of Illinois Issues, and Natasha Korecki of the Politico Illinois Playbook.

Rod Blagojevich
U.S. Government

A jury has found a racetrack owner liable in a civil racketeering case that involved actions during Rod Blagojevich's time as Illinois governor.  

The jury in federal district court in Chicago on Monday awarded $26.3 million in damages to four Illinois riverboat casinos. The damages are tripled because the case fell under the civil racketeering statute, making the recovery more than $78 million.  

The trial involved a pay-to-play deal allegedly involving the now-imprisoned Blagojevich and John Johnston, a member of the Illinois racetrack industry.