(KMOV)-- The struggling Fairmount Park in Collinsville, Illinois opens its 86th season Tuesday.
The track will host races on 75 dates, which is considerably less than a dozen years ago when there more than 230 races a season but about 50% more than the 52 dates in 2010.
The horse racing industry thinks it has a solution for the slump: turn the race tracks into “racinos.”
This plan has been circulating for years. In January, it looked like lawmakers in Springfield had the votes to pass a law allowing slot machines at horse tracks, but the bill never came to a vote in fear the governor would veto it.
All five horse tracks in Illinois have had a hard time competing with tracks in neighboring states because of their slot machines. They draw more crowds and make more money, which means more money for the winning horse owners and more horses there to race.
Lobbyists and lawmakers are at it again in Springfield.
News Four talked to Fairmount's racing director Bobby Pace a few hours before post time Tuesday.
"We need it I believe to survive," says Pace. "I'm cautiously optimistic."
News Four's Mark Schnyder contributed to this report.