Well, here we go again. Today's Herald reported that Rep. Lou Lang is preparing a bill that would allow the installation of slot machines at Arlington Park and other Illinois race tracks.
This time, he doesn't bother to articulate his rationale which, in the past, has involved "saving the horse-racing industry in Illinois." This argument is usually supported by a belief that Arlington and other tracks have a "divine right" to exist; and to get to have slots.
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I've said it before, and I'll say it again. This is nonsense! Arlington and the other tracks operate on a failing business model. Technology and many other gambling options have eroded much of the basis for their past existence.
My sense of things is that Arlington and the other tracks should have no special place in the business firmament. If what they offer can't meet the test of the marketplace, they should change what they do, or shut down.
If Arlington and other tracks are granted a license to have slots to keep them alive then, in fairness, every other failing business that needs new revenue streams should get slot licenses too. Let's put slots in the premises of car dealers, restaurants, big box retailers, model homes in real estate developments, and all other enterprises that are trying to stay afloat in today's rough economic waters.
In truth, I favor no more expansion of gambling. I've been involved with a number of social service agencies that try to help those addicted to gambling. Gambling does far more damage than it's worth. It's quite disgraceful that our elected officials, who are supposed to protect our citizens, would advocate so strongly for measures that would hurt them.
Charles F. Falk