It’s full steam ahead for Hawthorne Race Course in Illinois. The property was approved by the Illinois Gaming Board in 2020 to develop the first racino complete in the state. The goal is to offer both horseracing and casino betting. The redevelopment project is in the works with the property recently receiving 2023 racing dates.

Thoroughbreds just met at the starting gate this past weekend at Hawthorne to start the 2022 fall meet. The property is now looking forward to next year’s race dates and work on the racino project.

Moving Forward

Hawthorne was given preliminary approval to move ahead with the racino project, but final approval must be given by a separate regulatory agency from the Gaming Board. The track has submitted its paperwork, including financial disclosures to regulators.

A final figure has not been presented, but it is estimated that the project will cost $400 million. President of Hawthorne, Tim Carey, was asked by Racing Board Chairman Dan Beiser if he is comfortable with financing the project into reality and he said ‘absolutely, yes.’

The expansion will add slot machines and table games to the facility and dining areas. Upgrades will be made to wagering sections of the site along with the addition of a multi-level parking garage. A temporary sportsbook is already in place, operated by PointsBet.

Investing in the Future

As Hawthorne offers thoroughbred racing next years, the casino should be under construction. There are 68 racing days in 2023, from March 4 through early September. The construction process should be a positive sign for trainers and horse owners, with everyone feeling more at ease with the racing industry as work is being done to the facility.

Officials from the Illinois Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association feel that the construction will give horse owners the boost they need to invest in their operation, such as in horses and stables. Essentially, the project will mean more investing in the state’s racing industry.

Horsemen of Illinois have been wanting to see casino gaming added for quite some time. The games can help to bulk up declining purses for races and bring more traffic to the tracks. The industry was already hurting and once Arlington Park shut down, it brought even more unease among shareholders.

Arlington Park saw its last day of horse racing over the weekend and the property is being liquidated. The Chicago Bears look to purchase the property for just over $197 million. The Bears plan to use the land to build a new stadium.