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.