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updated: 5/24/2011 7:19 PM

Arlington Heights gambling opponents offer survey

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A survey published as a full-page ad in Monday's Daily Herald by opponents of gambling expansion at Arlington Park can educate residents, say local activists.

And a representative of the national group that has joined the fray says the ad is just the first volley in their fight -- although he admits the battle could be lost soon if a bill allowing slots at the track passes.

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Residents in Favor of Home Rule, a local group, and Stop Predatory Gambling, an organization founded by Tom Grey, a minister with Arlington Heights ties, ran the survey Monday.

It asks six yes-or-no questions such as "Would you support a multimillion-dollar enterprise in Arlington Heights knowing that no studies have been conducted regarding the impact it would have on traffic, the environment and taxpayer services like police and fire?" and "Would you welcome thousands of more cars each year clogging Arlington Heights' roadways and polluting the air?"

The ad urges residents to bring the survey to the June 6 Arlington Heights village board meeting; send it to Village President Arlene Mulder; or answer it online at residentsforhomerule.com/survey, which automatically sends answers to Mulder and village trustees.

"These are the questions not addressed," said Judith Royal, an outspoken opponent of expanding gambling at the track.

Track officials say additional gambling, such as slot machines, is needed to increase purses, attract quality horses and keep Arlington Park viable.

Thom Serafin, a spokesman for Arlington Park, said the track provides a significant number of jobs for the area and its owners have always worked with the village. Tracks, he added, are strongly regulated by the state.

Gambling opponents say slots are more addictive than wagering on horse races, and allowing them will increase crimes and domestic abuse. They believe it could also open the door for the track to eventually drop racing all together.

The village board spent years complaining to legislators that allowing increased gaming without local approval violates the village's home-rule powers. But last week a majority of trustees made it clear they now support slot machines at the track, several out of fear Arlington Park will close otherwise. Mulder wrote a letter to that effect to legislators.

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