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Arlington Park Lobbies Fans to Support Gambling Bill

Gaming bill would allow for more casinos and video gaming at racetracks.

Arlington Park is lobbying racing fans to contact their state representatives to support a gambling bill that would allow slot machines at Illinois racetracks.

“This bill will save Illinois horse racing, create new jobs and provide needed revenue to the state,” according to a note addressed “Dear Arlington Racing Fan” on the Park’s website.

The bill is SB 1739, titled the Chicago Casino Development, sponsored by State Sen. Terry Link, D-Vernon Hills, passed in the Senate on May 1. SB 1739 will be discussed in the House’s executive committee. Lawmakers are working to amend the bill and the deadline to complete that work is May 21, according to the Illinois General Assembly website.

Among the bill’s provisions is the creation of the Chicago Casino Development Authority Act, developing the Division of Internet Gaming within the Department of the Lottery and revising the Illinois Horse Racing Act of 1975 to allow electronic gaming, or slots, according to the website. 

While the Senate passed it on May 1, the House could amend the bill before voting on it.

“We need to tell our State Representatives of our support of this bill and they need to hear from individual Illinois residents,” the Park’s website states. The site also provides a link for people who do not know who represents their district. “Thank you for your support,” the note ends.

Arlington Park would not talk make any official statements about its effort to encourage racing fans show lawmakers their support, Senior Manager of Communications David Zenner said.

Rep. Keith Farnham, a Democrat from the 43rd District and sits on the Executive Committee, said the bill has not been discussed at the committee’s meetings yet, but expects it to come up soon.

His position has been consistently against gambling expansion. Farnham said he would likely oppose it again. He does not object to Chicago having a gambling casino, but he is not supportive of peppering gaming across the state at racetracks or other place, he said.

Votes on other gambling bills have been close, so he expects a good amount of lobbying for this bill.

There is opposition to SB1739 from the Illinois Chamber, which has launched a media campaign asking voters to urge their representatives to vote 'no', aruging the bill is a bad bet for Illinois.

Tom Sanders May 20, 2013 at 12:30 PM
How many more casino's do we have to have. enough is enough. All that we are doing is promoting gamgling addictions. It is time to stop the spread of these things.
Eric Schlomann May 20, 2013 at 03:43 PM
People talk about gambling as if it was the Black Plague, Spreading through an unsuspecting population, infecting all who come into contact! I go to the racetrack to have a good time. Same reason I go to the occasional casino. I may or may not pump a few dollars into the slots instead of on the ponies. Having a closer proximity to slot machines doesn't mean I'll be forced to use them. We used to make trips to Indiana to go to the casino. Why not keep the revenue in Illinois or Arlington Racetrack specifically? How can anyone be opposed to slot machines in a racetrack? The only reason they are even open is for gambling. People clearly enjoy gambling as evidenced by all the OTB locations and casinos that we already found a way to make legal. If some people are too irresponsible to handle the additional gambling opportunities given by slots, then that's their problem, not mine. Leave it up to the people to spend their dollars how they wish.
antigambler May 20, 2013 at 04:11 PM
A study has shown that more casinos in Illinois, including racinos, would produce LESS money for the State because of the progressive tax structure on casinos. Competition reduces their revenues, which reduces taxes. But also, reduced revenues mean they pay at a reduced percentage, too. What's the point---making casino-owners rich? They would be the only winners of more casinos. Besides that, the video gambling is just starting to roll out. Why would anyone drive to a casino, if there are slots right down the street? Call your legislators at (217) 782-2000, and tell them to vote "NO" on any gambling expansion bills! Call the governor at (800) 642-3112, and tell him to veto any gambling expansion bills!
Arlington Fan May 20, 2013 at 08:27 PM
Horse racing is a large business for the state. Lots of jobs, lots of taxes. Slots would keep the industry at least competitive with surrounding states that offer slots at their tracks. Shouldn't we protect the jobs this sport generates?

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