Unwise Legislation in Illinois: An Editorial, Daily Racing Form, 1951-06-20


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Unwise Legislation in Illinois AN EDITORIAL ; How short-sighted can state legislators be? The question is prompted by the passage in the Illinois House the other day of one bill which would increase the pari-mutuel "take" at tracks within the Chicago area 1 per cent to 14 per cent, and consideration now being given a second measure which would compel all racing associations to allot 50 per cent of their stalls to Illinois owners, with out-of-state horsemen subject to eviction upon five days notice to" meet that requirement. The tax bill was passed without a dissenting vote, 105 to 0. The sponsors contend that the extra levy would yield ,400,000 annually, this to aid in financing a Chicago lake front fair and several downstate fairs. . - . Here is further evidence of the continued tendency of state legislators to tax racing beyond its capacity to pay. It is quite proper that the sport should pay a reasonable tax to the commonwealths that license it, as this newspaper consistently has maintained, but there is a limit to the burden that any enterprise can bear. The sport in Illinois now is carrying its full load, and increasing it is but inviting disaster. Gov. Adlai E. Stevenson should veto both bills promptly, if they reach his desk. They demand executive disapproval because of their very unfairness, as the Illinois Racing-Board vigorously pointed out through its chairman, Stuyvesant Peabddy, Jr. Racing in the Chicago district is being conducted on the highest plane, particularly at the two more prominent tracks, Arlington and Washington Parks. This is made possible only through the present tax set-up. In 1950, the thoroughbred sport in Illinois channelled approximately ,000,000 into the state treasury, almost all of it being contributed by the Chicago courses. Increasing the "take" would seriously endanger the success of that racing. It would invoke the law of diminishing returns. The increase of 1 per cent may , seem at first glance very small, but it requires only a pinprick to deflate the fattest balloon. That the race-going public has become "take wise" has been conclusively proved in the state of New York. Though there has been improvement in attendance and mutuel play this year over last year, they are still a long way from what they were when the "take" was 10 per cent as against the present15 per cent. In fact, the handle at the Belmont Park meeting now under way is about 50 per cent less than at the last corresponding meeting when 10 per cent was exacted. That the New York state legislature was cognizant of the diminishing return was shown last year when it voted to eliminate the 5 per cent extra city and county levy, reducing it 1 per cent each year over a period of five years, beginning in 1952. The richest summer racing in the country is afforded Chicago-land fans at Arlington and Washington Parks. Truly, the lavish stake programs this season at these tracks are of a quality that keeps the Windy City in the turf limelight. This is possible only under existing tax conditions. To disturb them could indeed be ruinous. The proposed restrictions on the allocation of stalls can only be labeled vicious. They are rankly discriminatory, un-American and downright stupid. Enactment of the contem-" plated tax measure, combined with the freeze-out of stables from other states, constitutes a lethal one-two punch. It would reduce Chicago racing to county fair-levels. Even if an increased tax did not seriously impair the quality of the " sport, the "home rule" proposal most certainly would. Surely the Illinois solons are not so naive and provincial as to think that the extraordinary stake programs at Arlington and Washington Parks could be supported even to a 50 per cent degree by Illinois owners. Illinois racing is provided by horses, not by men. There are not enough top flight thoroughbreds in Illinois-owned stables to fill even a small percentage of the important stakes that the tracks card for them. Out-of-state owners would be Continued from Page Six Unwise Legislation in Illinois Continued from Page One deterred from shipping their ace thoroughbreds, to say nothing of champions, into the area with a five-day eviction threat hanging over them. - For example, would the owner of a Counterpoint invade the sacred precincts of Illinois the risk of being obliged to vacate should an Illinois owner of a selling plater desire the stall? The idea is so fantastic it is inconceivable that the lawmakers would **~ take time from saner measures to give it a second thought. If the legislature doesnt kill both proposals, Governor Stevenson should have ho hesitancy doing so for the good of the state.

Persistent Link: https://drf.uky.edu/catalog/1950s/drf1951062001/drf1951062001_1_3
Local Identifier: drf1951062001_1_3
Library of Congress Record: https://lccn.loc.gov/unk82075800