Influential Illinois Racing Commissioner Resigns

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Commissioner Thomas McCauley, who volunteered his time to play a major role in mediating the recently contentious contract negotiations between Arlington International Racecourse and the Illinois Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association (ITHA), abruptly resigned from the Illinois Racing Board (IRB) “effective immediately” on Sep. 4.

No reason was cited for McCauley’s sudden departure, which was announced in an IRB press release late Friday afternoon on the cusp of the Labor Day holiday weekend.

McCauley, an attorney who specializes in gaming law and regulatory compliance counsel as a partner at the Chicago-based Nisen & Elliott, LLC, was frequently the only member of the IRB to ask direct, pointed questions of racing industry stakeholders at IRB meetings. He served two stints on the IRB, first in 2014 and again starting in 2017.

McCauley was especially blunt over the past year in repeatedly grilling executives from Arlington and its corporate parent, Churchill Downs, Inc., (CDI). At an IRB meeting last September, he chastised CDI for lacking “any regard for social responsibility whatsoever” after the gaming corporation intentionally missed a deadline to apply for gaming licensure after a decade of working with the ITHA to get a state law passed to attain that privilege.

IRB Chairman Dan Beiser said in the release that “The Illinois horse racing industry has benefitted immensely from Tom’s service over the years and will definitely miss his valuable input.”

Commissioner Arlene Mulder, whose term on the IRB recently expired, was not reappointed, the IRB release also noted.

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