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updated: 11/4/2010 5:29 PM

Slots at Arlington? Supporters want lawmakers to talk about it

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SPRINGFIELD -- Whether slot machines should be installed at Arlington Park could once again be debated in Springfield later this month.

State Sen. Terry Link, a Waukegan Democrat, said he's working on a gambling expansion package that could be debated by lawmakers when they return to Springfield as early as Nov. 16.

"The bill is being finalized as we speak," Link said.

He said the plan would include allowing horse tracks to install slot machines. The controversial plan is intended to make money for the state's flagging horse racing industry.

The industry is planning a rally in Cicero Monday urging lawmakers to take up the issue this month. Organizers expect horse breeders, trainers, riders and others to attend.

But opponents have decried the idea of expanding gambling.

Arlington Heights trustees earlier this week debated whether having slot machines at Arlington Park would be a good idea. Some village officials want the ability to block slot machines locally even if the state allows them.

Link said that's an issue that could be debated.

"Hopefully we'll rectify everyone's problems," Link said.

Thom Serafin, a spokesman for the racetrack, said there's no way of knowing what the General Assembly will eventually decide, or if they'll even vote on the idea.

Plans to put slot machines at the track have been around for more than 10 years, and state lawmakers have never signed off.

Serafin said Arlington Park officials will monitor the debate as always.

"We're living without it," Serafin said of the slot machines. "But if they pass a law, we want to be a part of it."

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