Arlington Park's Future Still in Gov's Hands PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Sports & Recreation
Written by Barry Rozner   
Wednesday, 02 May 2012 08:38

Another year has passed.

Another year without a new gambling bill in Illinois.

The truly amazing part is that the Illinois House and Senate — made up of the people who represent us, the people — actually got together in 2011 and agreed on a gambling bill.

And then one person out of 13 million Illinois residents decided he didn’t like it.

Governor Pat Quinn killed the bill because it included slot machines at race tracks that would have saved the horse racing industry.

It’s hard to decide which part of this story carries the greatest irony.

While the state is in financial crisis, millions in revenue go across the borders every day as Quinn worries about a bill that expands gambling too much.

And while he worries about expanded gambling, he expands by adding online lottery gambling.

He worries about expanded gambling with slot machines at race tracks, but he’s willing to add five new Illinois casinos tomorrow if a bill meets his approval.

He’s worried about casino oversight and protecting the public from corruption and crime, yet Arlington Park isn’t a new gaming operation.

There’s been wagering at the racetrack for 85 years, or 85 years longer than any of the new casinos in the bill.

If anything, the new casinos are the ones that need greater oversight, not Arlington Park.

Furthermore, the fear of what “element’’ slots will bring to neighborhood racetracks is the same “element” cities and villages always fear when there’s talk of adding off-track betting.

Perhaps, those who voice such concerns have never been to an OTB, or visited the slots rooms at race tracks in other states.

If they ever walked into one, they would see that the patrons are not the guys from “Goodfellas.”

It’s more like the guys from “Sunshine Boys.”

I believe Quinn when he says he’s trying to look out for the people of Illinois. I think he believes he is, but in this case he’s not doing that.

Illinois is desperate for revenue, and the longer he waits, the more he’s costing the people of Illinois.

People who want to gamble will find a way to do it, and right now those without access are doing it in Indiana, Wisconsin, Iowa and Missouri.

Quinn is listening to people who are trying to steer him away from slots at tracks as if that’s going to make expanded gambling more palatable to those who don’t want expanded gambling.

This is, of course, nonsense.

You can’t sort of expand gambling. You either do or you don’t.

Quinn already has done it with the lottery and wants to do it with five new casinos. To borrow from Winston Churchill, we’ve already established that. Now we are haggling about the price.

Why expand gambling and at the same time further degrade a horse racing industry that has been around much longer than casinos, let alone five startup casinos, and perhaps put horse racing in Illinois out of business entirely?

It just doesn’t make any sense. It’s not logical. It’s downright baffling.

Then again, this is still Illinois.

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