Now that the Illinois Racing Board has officially given the green light for Illinois residents to wager online on horse racing through three advance-deposit wagering (ADW) companies, what exactly does that mean for the racing industry?
Well, one thing's for sure, Illinois racetracks are loving every minute of it.
"We are pleased that ADW is moving forward in Illinois; this only helps to benefit the tracks and horsemen together," said Jim Miller, assistant general manager of Hawthorne Racecourse. "We realize that not everybody can make it to the track or OTB's, so this gives players another outlet to enjoy racing in our state."
"It's definitely a good thing," said Dave Zenner, a spokesman for Arlington Park. "It's a good thing for racing in Illinois. It's going to help the track and it's going to help the purses."
Here are some answers to key questions on the minds of some racing fans throughout the state:
Q: Weren't people in Illinois already betting online on races in Illinois and across the country?
A: According to IRB executive Mark Laino, Illinois was previously "a gray state," in which online wagering on horse racing wasn't really prohibited or authorized. So, yes, they were.
Q: How much money was being lost in terms of uncollected tax revenue?
A: That is something we may never find out.
Q: There are three separate advance-deposit wagering companies aligned with different Illinois tracks - Youbet.com (Hawthorne, Maywood and Balmoral), TVG.com (Fairmount) and TwinSpires.com (Arlington). How does that work?
A: Let's say you wager using TwinSpires.com and are betting on a race at Aqueduct Race Track in New York. That means that TwinSpires.com and the New York Racing Association each get a portion of the takeout and then TwinSpires.com splits a share with Arlington and its horsemen.
Q: Now that the tracks are part of the online wagering train, what do they do they figure to gain from it?
A: TBD. One educated estimate is that between $100 million and $150 million could be wagered on the sites, meaning once the tracks get their take, purse money could see a nice boost. One estimate suggests it will add $1.7 million in tax revenue to the state.
Q: Does this mean that fewer people will attend the races and OTB parlors?
A: Maybe, but the hope is even if that happens the handle will go up as residents bet on local and national tracks via computer. Also, those folks who can't make it to the local track on certain days may now occasionally make a wager online instead of sitting on the sidelines.
Q: For someone who has never wagered online, what is the procedure?
A: First you register for an account with an ADW. Then you fund it. Then you bet. Simple as that.
Q: How much does it cost to make a bet?
A: It depends on the ADW you choose. Some charge a minimal amount per bet, others, like TwinSpires.com, don't. All three ADW's want your business right now, so check each one out for the best deal.
Q: Say you wager on a race and win big, how do you actually get the winnings in your hand?
A: First, congratulations. Second, simply ask for a check to be cut from your winnings and then wait a couple of days to get it in the mail. According to the Arlington Park Web site, in the future deposits and withdrawals can be made to/from TwinSpires.com accounts at Arlington Park and Trackside OTBs
Q: Can you bet on any track across the country?
A: Any track your ADW carries, yes. All three companies carry races from virtually every track.