Here in Illinois, advanced deposit wagering is still illegal. The legislature is supposed to be addressing the issue in the very near future, but there is cause for concern
if the ADW issue becomes part of a larger gaming bill. Hopefully a bill addressing only this issue will be tabled and quickly approved. Allowing the previous bill to expire was an unfortunate oversight by the legislature, which will ideally address that lapse without further ado. As expected, the sting of missing a winner is much worse than the relief of avoiding a loser.
For now, however, those of us in Illinois will just have to get out to the track! Hawthorne's spring meet opens this Friday, February 15th and runs through Sunday, April 28th. While the Illinois Derby was snubbed
last year when it was excluded from the new Kentucky Derby points system, the Illinois Racing Board unanimously approved Hawthorne's request to increase the purse from $500,000 to $750,000.
While at first sight that may appear to mitigate the impact of being worth no "Derby points," changing the date of the Illinois Derby to April 20th this year means that it will have no impact on the more famous derby regardless. Thus, instead of being a relatively minor Kentucky Derby prep, it will serve as a stepping stone
to the Preakness or Belmont.
Rather than lament its insignificance in relation to the Kentucky Derby
, I will enjoy the Illinois Derby
this year for its own sake, as usual. Hawthorne has consistently provided a wonderful racing environment for us Chicagoans - save perhaps the indoor basement paddock, but I digress - and Illinois racing fans are surely looking forward to the return of live racing. Perhaps this opening day will draw a few more bettors than those of year's past, considering we can legally place a wager at 35th and Laramie.