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updated: 5/22/2011 9:05 AM

Voices weigh in on debate over slots at Arlington Park

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  • Adding slot machines at Arlington Park in Arlington Heights is still simmering in Springfield.

      Adding slot machines at Arlington Park in Arlington Heights is still simmering in Springfield.
    File photo

 
 

It's nearly an annual rite in the Illinois political world, when lawmakers, gambling interests and moral opponents debate whether horse racing tracks like Arlington Park should also house hundreds of slot machines.

Earlier this year, a plan to allow for 1,200 slots at Arlington fizzled, but the idea is bubbling just below the surface in Springfield once again. It's anyone's guess whether lawmakers will debate it on the House and Senate floors.

Even if they don't, it's clear that people interested in the issue will be debating it.

Supporters say slots could save the flagging horse racing industry by giving it a new revenue stream -- one that also can give the state more tax money.

Opponents, though, argue slots at tracks amount to a bailout of the industry and one that could harm casinos in Elgin, Aurora and Des Plaines.

Just last week, Arlington Heights officials showed support, however informal, for the idea. But local state lawmakers who were looking for some direction from the village board largely remain on the fence.

"If anything," Rep. Fred Crespo said about the board's opinion last week, "it sheds light on that it's a very controversial issue." Read linked excerpts of six essays covering both sides.

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