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updated: 5/22/2011 9:31 AM

Track exec: Track fuels economy

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  • Tony Petrillo

    Tony Petrillo

By Tony Petrillo |General manager, Arlington Park

Arlington Park Racecourse is a local economic powerhouse that supported more than 4,000 jobs and pumped more than $85 million -- tax revenue, wages and other spending -- into the local economy in 2010 alone.

With slot machines complementing horse racing, Arlington Park would give far more. The growth would create up to 1,400 additional, permanent jobs, prompt up to $150 million in construction-related spending, and put more than $5 million in additional annual tax revenue behind local public services. Indeed, allowing slots at Arlington Park is necessary to save the racecourse's future. Tracks in other states use slots to increase the size of purses -- the economic backbone of racing -- and Illinois tracks, hamstrung by regulations from the last century, simply can't compete. ... Local public officials and community members understand this. A majority of the Arlington Heights Village Board recently expressed support for preserving Arlington Park with slot machines. And in early May, a combined 63 percent of Arlington Heights residents said they support adding slot machines at the track, according to a survey of registered voters.

Surveyed residents stressed that the economy and taxes -- property taxes, specifically -- are the most important issues facing Arlington Heights. A viable Arlington Park is critical to retaining and fostering other business growth and growing the tax base to help stabilize property taxes.

Arlington Park pre-exists all other gaming facilities in Illinois, having operated gaming in Arlington Heights nearly continuously since 1927. Arlington Park and Arlington Heights are neighbors -- economically and otherwise.

The choice is simple: Arlington Park will enhance its operations with slot machines and will help stabilize and grow the local economy, or Arlington Park will have little future and the local economy will suffer. Horse racing competitors have left Illinois to compete in Pennsylvania and other states where the purses are more competitive, and they've taken their dollars with them ... Electronic gaming would level the playing field with other states while enhancing the local entertainment jewel that residents of Arlington Heights and surrounding communities have cherished and frequented for generations. Visit to learn more about the potential benefits for Arlington Heights and surrounding communities. Thank you for your attention to this important economic issue.