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updated: 5/22/2011 9:33 AM

Resident: Slots won't save racing

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  • Judith O. Royal

    Judith O. Royal

By Judith O. Royal, Arlington Heights resident

The Arlington Heights Village Board has declared support for proposed state legislation to put 1,200 slot machines at Arlington Park Racecourse, making it another Churchill Downs land-based casino ... The board has been influenced by Arlington Park's purchased survey of only 400 people plus financial and employment projections purchased by track management from a savvy PR firm.

If the goal is to save live racing, slots are not the answer. Slots at racetracks draw customers away from live racing. Most casino customers do not bet on the horses. Slots are fast and easy to use. They are designed to make you believe you are a winner while you are losing ... They give you an adrenaline rush. Live racing is a dying industry which track owners use as a hook to get casino licenses. In some states where legislation had required live racing to operate slots, legislatures amended the laws at the insistence of track owners. Then track owners eliminated the live racing but kept their casinos. This would be the likely future of Arlington Park. Our village would be left with a land-based casino, operating 18 hours a day, year round.

Revenues anticipated by governments get much attention and often are inflated. Real costs to communities are not discussed. How can local businesses compete when casinos offer popular entertainment, quality food, and beverages at low prices? ... Money lost at casinos is not put into savings or spent on rent, food, children's needs, and necessities ... A casino within 10 miles of home is associated with a 90 percent increase in the odds of your being a pathological or problem gambler, according to John W. Welte, Ph.D. Research Institute on Addictions.

I do not oppose live racing at Arlington Park. I love our family-oriented community. I urge the mayor and trustees as well as our state legislators to study thoroughly the true costs and all facts before they make Arlington Park a casino under the pretense of saving live racing.