The Illinois Racing Board consists of eleven members (names and pictures) appointed to six year terms by the Governor with the advice and consent of the Senate. The Board is responsible for enforcement of the statute governing horse racing in Illinois known as the Illinois Horse Racing Act.
Each year the Board issues racing licenses and establishes a racing schedule for each of the state's operating racetracks, both thoroughbred and harness. The race date allocation process involves an assessment of each racetrack's application for a racing license in view of the best interest of Illinois racing and such factors as the racetrack's facilities and accommodations for the public, the tax revenues to be generated for the state from various race meets, the extent of promotional and marketing activities, the character, fitness, reputation and integrity of the racetrack's owners and operators, and each racetrack's compliance with affirmative action plans.
Off-track or "OTB" licenses are issued by the Board on an annual basis. Each racetrack is entitled to receive up to six OTB licenses, except Fairmount Park which is entitled to seven such licenses. An off-track facility may not be located within 500 feet of any church, school or residence and must be located within 90 miles of the applicant's racetrack (135 miles for downstate tracks). Additionally, all Illinois racetracks are entitled to accept intertrack simulcast wagers when they are not conducting live racing.
The Board is responsible for the audit of all racing revenues and receipts, and for the collection and disbursement of all fees and taxes from racing. The Board employs parimutuel auditors at each racetrack to ensure that all collections and disbursements are made correctly and in a timely fashion in accordance with the provisions of the Illinois Horse Racing Act.
It is the Board's responsibility to ensure the honesty and integrity of all horse races conducted in Illinois. All racing participants including jockeys, harness drivers, trainers, grooms, owners, outriders, pony persons, feed vendors, concessionaires, veterinarians, exercise persons, blacksmiths, agents and others whose work is conducted at Illinois racetracks must be licensed by the Board each year. The licensing process involves a complete criminal background check, a review of the applicant's prior racing record and financial history, an assessment of the applicant's character and fitness, and a determination of the applicant's competency to perform the duties for which the license is sought. Once issued, a license may be suspended or revoked by the Board for any just cause.
Each race conducted in Illinois is observed by at least three stewards and several patrol judges all of whom have extensive racing experience. The stewards' viewing stand is located near the finish line of each racetrack and is equipped with several television monitors to permit a viewing of multiple angles of each race. The stewards observe the races both for acts of interference, which would cause a disqualification, and for attempts to fraudulently manipulate the outcome, which would result in the permanent suspensions of any parties involved.
All winning horses and others selected at the discretion of the stewards are required to provide a urine and blood sample for purpose of testing for illegal substances. The Board employs veterinarians at each track to supervise the collection of blood and urine at designated post-race detention barns. Following each race program, blood and urine samples are sent to a state-of-the-art forensic laboratory located in Chicago.
Each horse entered to race must be in a detention barn several hours prior to its post-time, and must be attended by the trainer or the trainer's delegate. The entire barn area is closely monitored by the Board's security staff as well as security guards employed by the racetrack. The Illinois State Police provides investigative services for the Board.
To ensure that horses participating in the races are the same as those entered and listed in the official program, the Board security staff identifies each horse in each race by registered lip tattoo or freeze brand as the horse arrives in the paddock. During pre-race warm-ups, every horse is examined by the Board's veterinarian to ensure that it is physically sound and not medically incapable of giving its best effort.
The Board's administrative staff and central offices are located at the James R. Thompson center in downtown Chicago.