A local horseman hailed the Illinois General Assembly's overwhelming approval of a bill that will extend online betting on Illinois horse races.
"This keeps us afloat," said Mike Knicley, who trains harness racing horses at his farm west of Newton.
"For those who love horse racing in Illinois, it's a great decision."
Advance Deposit Wagering, or ADW, had been in effect since 2009 on a trial basis. The law was set to expire Friday. Those in the horse racing industry had feared a failure to renew the 2009 law would have put the 2014 racing season in jeopardy.
It is estimated that 15,000 people statewide earn their living as a direct result of horse racing in Illinois, including drivers, jockeys, trainers, feed store owners and track personnel. The existence of online betting enables people to bet on the horses without going to the track.
"Online betting enables downstate people who can't go to races in Chicago to bet online," Knicely said.
The Illinois Senate voted 47-4 Wednesday to pass the extension, while the House approved the extension with a 95-10 vote on the same day. Gov. Pat Quinn signed the bill into law Wednesday afternoon.
For more, see Thursday's print and e-editions.