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updated: 5/3/2011 5:16 AM

Minister, residents grill Arlington Hts. board over slots at track

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  • The Arlington Heights village board heard from ministers and residents who oppose putting slot macines in Arlington Park.

      The Arlington Heights village board heard from ministers and residents who oppose putting slot macines in Arlington Park.
    Arlington Park

 
 

Arlington Heights ministers have several questions about slot machines at Arlington Park, and a community forum where they could be asked would be a good idea, the village board was told Monday night.

Rev. Jeffrey L. Phillips of St. John United Church raised the questions, and five other people spoke against the expansion of gambling that racetrack owners say they need to keep the track solvent.

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Phillips' questions started with whether alcohol would be served 20 to 22 hours a day 365 days a year if the gambling operates those hours. He also asked what the impact of the expanded gambling would be on facilities like the hospital and what kind of emergency room staffing might be required. He wanted to know what the effects would be on traffic and the number of police officers required, and finally he asked if the slot machines would be allowed to continue if the track quit offering live racing.

No one from the village board responded to the comments from the floor. Legislators are trying again to pass a law allowing slots and video poker at racetracks, without any approval from the local governments.

Other speakers Monday night argued that the gambling expansion would not save horses racing at Arlington Park.

Judith Royal, who has spoken before against the gambling expansion said the village board should do a cost-benefit analysis, stop the state legislature from pre-empting home rule, and prevent Arlington Heights from being turned into a casino town.

John Allen Boryk, a retired minister who lives in Des Plaines, said these electronic machines are addictive.

Nancy Duel, who has spoken several times against gambling expansion, noted that slot machines in Indiana have not prevented bankruptcies, which she said is an argument against the hope that the expanded gambling would keep racing alive at Arlington Park. She also questioned whether Arlington Park brings enough money to the village to make it worthwhile to "change the character of Arlington Heights."

Expanding gambling would "suck money out of the local economy," said Allison Anderson. She mentioned that restaurants would suffer if people stayed at the track to gamble and eat.

Kenneth Nielsen, a member of the board of Arlington Heights Elementary District 25, said slot machines do not "really belong in a high-quality town like Arlington Heights.

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