Hawthorne Race Course Excited Over Race Dates Award; Looks Forward to Racino Build

In the next coming years, the state of Illinois expects to have at least 2 racinos. Racinos, which are a combination of a horse racing track and a casino have become all the buzz these days among punters and lovers of sports betting. 

In the past, Hawthorne Race Course and FanDuel Casino have made it clear that they intend to invest in a brand-new racino. However, it remains unclear as to when these racinos will be opened for business. The good news is that the 2 tracks recently made their cases to the Illinois Racing Board and if everything goes according to plan, the state could have new racinos as early as next year.

How did racinos come about?

Racinos have been part of the American gambling market since the first one was opened in the 90s. The first racino opened its doors in Iowa in a little region known as Polk County. Back then, the Prairie Meadows track was struggling and was on the brink of bankruptcy when the owners of the track appealed to the state for authorization to add slots at the racetrack.

To sweeten the deal, Prairie Meadows also promise to operate the track as a nonprofit that would then fund the local community’s project, as well as some of its charitable ventures. Prairie Meadows then came up with a business model characterized by parimutuels underwritten by gaming, which is how the very first racino in the country was formed.

Prairie Meadows, therefore, created the blueprint for other states to follow. After the success that was experienced at Prairie Meadows racino, other states quickly started to follow suit. For instance, Canterbury Downs in Shakopee, Minnesota was among the first tracks to create a racino.

Like Prairie Meadows, Canterbury Downs had been struggling to make ends meet and was even shut down for years in 1992. However, a group of business owners reopened the track as a racino complete with card casinos and live meets, which successfully revived the once-defeated Canterbury Downs. 

Twenty-seven years since Canterbury Downs in Shakopee was turned into a racino, the track continues to perform well. Today, the track is now known as Canterbury Park and it attracts at least 600,000 interested punters every year. Tracks like Prairie Meadows and Canterbury Downs recognized very early on that the golden age of horse racing had passed.

It is only now that other tracks are realizing that surviving is only going to become tougher without subsidies from other forms of gambling. Hawthorne Race Course and Fairmount Park, which is expected to soon rebrand to FanDuel Sportsbook and Horse Racing, already have plans underway to open racinos in the not-so-distant future.

Once these racinos have been set up, patrons of these tracks will be able to wager on horse races as usual. However, they will also have the option to play slots and other table games within the same track. In addition to the casino games, most modern racinos will also have sportsbook lounges to give punters as much variety as possible.

In particular, the Hawthorne Race Course, located in Stickney is expected to be one of the largest attractions in the region. The race track’s interior is also expected to be gutted in order to make room for the new additions.

 The Hawthorne Race Course has plans to upgrade its horse betting facilities while also introducing new dining options. The Hawthorne Race Course will also have a multi-level parking garage so that it can accommodate as many guests as possible.

PointsBet already operates a retail sportsbook on the track. As such, lots of sports bettors will already be familiar with the sports betting offerings. Originally, the administrators of Hawthorne had anticipated the opening of the racino late last year. However, the opening dates were held back owing to the mounting pandemic health crisis.

Alternatively, not much is known about FanDuel Sportsbook and Horse Racing. However, we do know that it will offer many of the same services and offering as Hawthorne racino. This means that punters can expect a sportsbook, horse racing, table games, and slots.

Originally named Fairmount Park, the track in Collinsville changed its name to FanDuel Sportsbook and Horse Racing in 2020. When it was rebranded, FanDuel worked hard to revitalize the almost 100-year-old track. For instance, FanDuel made a significant investment to upgrade the facilities while establishing a retail sportsbook on-site.

FanDuel also started funding the $250,000 St. Louis Derby, which had been the track’s signature event but was shut down owing to financial constraints. The capital upgrades, as well as the addition of a retail sportsbook, helped to modernize the track. But it is the addition of a racino that will completely transform the track’s finances and make it even more profitable.

Arlington Park, on the other hand, which is controlled by Churchill downs currently doesn’t have plans to open a racino. At present, the park still only offers horse racing and is yet to add a sports betting lounge or pursue a casino license. Although Arlington remains Illinois’s most popular track, it will have to eventually expand its services if it hopes to keep up with the likes of Hawthorne and FanDuel.

Hawthorne and FanDuel Sportsbook and Horse Racing remain the only 2 thoroughbred horse racing tracks in the state after Churchill Downs decide to sell the land where Arlington Racecourse is situated. 

Hawthorne is still waiting for approval from the Illinois Gaming Board before it can move forward with construction.  FanDuel, on the other hand, has not offered a progress report on its racinos. As such, it is very clear that Hawthorne will be the first to create the first racino in the state. 

Final Thoughts

Once approved by the Illinois Gaming Board, the state will be home to 2 of the most vibrant racinos in the country. As discussed above, the racino model has helped to ensure that some of the oldest horse racing tracks in the country survive and thrive. If everything goes according to plan, both FanDuel Sportsbook & Horse Racing and Hawthorne will become 2 of the largest revenue generators in the Illinois gambling market.