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Interest Diminishing in Illinois Racing

Even when his horses are winning, Frank Kirby figures he's still losing.

The prize money in Illinois is becoming too small to cover his expenses, he said. So, like an increasing number of other horse owners, he is considering racing more in Indiana, one of several states where winnings are greater because they are supported by revenue from slot machines at the tracks.

"I think every day about quitting breeding in Illinois, about racing someplace else," said Kirby, 74, of Maple Park, who owns, trains and breeds horses. "I can't see a future in it. You can't make any money here. The purses just aren't good enough."

Another racing season begins amid concerns that the sport in Illinois — handicapped by dwindling resources and diminished interest — could be on its last legs or even go out of business. Attendance at the tracks has been flat for years, and betting revenue continues to decline while the industry increasingly depends on riverboat gambling subsidies to help prop it up. Read More


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