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Suburban Downs, Inc. v. Illinois Racing Board

August 18, 2000

SUBURBAN DOWNS, INC.,
PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
V.
ILLINOIS RACING BOARD, BALMORAL RACING CLUB, INC., MAYWOOD PARK TROTTING ASSOCIATION, INC., ASSOCIATES RACING ASSOCIATION, INC., ARLINGTON INTERNATIONAL RACE COURSE, INC., NATIONAL JOCKEY CLUB, HAWTHORNE RACE COURSE, INC., OGDEN FAIRMOUNT, INC., ILLINOIS THOROUGHBRED HORSEMEN'S ASSOCIATION, ILLINOIS HARNESS HORSEMEN'S ASSOCIATION, AND ILLINOIS DIVISION, HORSEMEN'S BENEVOLENT AND PROTECTIVE ASSOCIATION,
DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Quinn

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County Honorable Thomas P. Durkin, Judge Presiding.

After a hearing to determine the allotment of racing dates for the year 2000, the Illinois Racing Board (the Board) refused to award harness racing dates to plaintiff Suburban Downs, Inc., instead awarding all harness racing dates to defendants Balmoral Racing Club, Inc. (Balmoral), and Maywood Park Trotting Association, Inc. (Maywood). The plaintiff's complaint for administrative review in the circuit court was heard and denied. On appeal, plaintiff argues that (1) the order entered by the Board was contrary to law in that the Board failed to make specific findings on the factors set forth in the Illinois Horse Racing Act of 1975 (the Racing Act) (230 ILCS 5/1 et seq. (West 1996)); (2) denial of racing dates to plaintiff because of its use of the Fontana safety rail was a denial of due process of law and was arbitrary and capricious; (3) any comparative disadvantage resulting from the Fontana rail was offset by plaintiff's one-mile track; (4) the record shows that greater revenue to the state and purses to horsemen would be produced by granting racing dates to plaintiff; and (5) the record showed that the Board's decision was motivated by considerations not permissible under the Racing Act. For the following reasons, we affirm the dates order issued by the Board.

Plaintiff, Suburban Downs, Inc., is an entity that conducts horse race meets and conducted harness racing at Hawthorne Race Course in Stickney, Illinois, from at least 1970 through 1997. *fn1 Defendants Balmoral, Maywood, Arlington, Associates Racing Association (Associates), National Jockey Club (National Jockey), Hawthorne Race Course, Inc. (Hawthorne), and Ogden Fairmount (Ogden) are also entities that conduct horse racing meets in Illinois. Balmoral conducts harness racing at Balmoral Park, in Crete, Illinois. Maywood conducts harness racing at Maywood Park in Maywood, Illinois. Chicago Downs Association (Chicago Downs) and Fox Valley Trotting Association (Fox Valley) have, in past years, conducted harness racing at Sportsman's Park in Cicero, Illinois, which adjoins Hawthorne Race Course.

Pursuant to the Racing Act, the Board is the agency charged with administering the Racing Act. 230 ILCS 5/2 (West 1996). The Racing Act provides that any person desiring to conduct a horse race meeting may apply to the Board for an organization license. 230 ILCS 5/20(a) (West 1996). In granting organization licenses and allotting dates for horse race meetings, the Board has discretion to determine an overall horse racing schedule that will, in its judgment, be conducive to the best interests of the public and the sport of horse racing. 230 ILCS 5/20(e-5) (West 1996).

In reaching its determination, the Board is to consider the following factors under Section 20(e-5) of the Racing Act:

(1) the character, reputation, experience, and financial integrity of the applicant and of any other separate person that either:

(i) controls the applicant, directly or indirectly, or

(ii) is controlled, directly or indirectly, by that applicant or by a person who controls, directly or indirectly, that applicant;

(2) the applicant's facilities or proposed facilities for conducting horse racing;

(3) the total revenue without regard to Section 32.1 to be derived by the State and horsemen from the applicant's conducting a race meeting;

(4) the applicant's good faith affirmative action plan to recruit, train, and upgrade minorities in all employment classifications;

(5) the applicant's financial ability to purchase and maintain adequate liability and casualty insurance;

(6) the applicant's proposed and prior year's promotional and marketing activities and expenditures of the applicant associated with those activities;

(7) an agreement, if any, among organization licensees as provided in subsection (b) of Section 21 of this Act; and

(8) the extent to which the applicant exceeds or meets other standards for the issuance of an organization license that the Board shall adopt by rule. 230 ILCS 5/20(e-5) (West Supp. 2000).

Through August 1 of each year, the Board accepts applications submitted by organizations seeking an award of racing dates for the next calendar year. *fn2 230 ILCS 5/20(e) (West 1996). The Board considers the applications and announces the award of the racing dates at its annual dates hearing in September. Those announcements are not considered final until the Board executes a formal order. 230 ILCS 5/20(e) (West 1996).

The following facts were taken from the record before the Board at the dates hearing and from the Board's dates order for the year 2000.

Plaintiff has never been awarded harness dates other than in winter, with the exception of a 10-day harness meet in May of 1992. For calendar years 1998 and 1999, plaintiff was not awarded any harness dates based on an agreement between all racetrack applicants. Instead, as a result of Arlington's absence, Hawthorne requested and was granted more thoroughbred dates at Hawthorne Race Course. Thoroughbred racing dates generate higher handle than harness ...


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