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updated: 5/26/2011 5:16 PM

Did Arlington Park labor dispute hold up gambling bill?

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  • Will slots come to Arlington Park?

      Will slots come to Arlington Park?
    Daily Herald file photo

  • Will slots come to Arlington Park?

      Will slots come to Arlington Park?
    Daily Herald file photo

  • Will slots come to Arlington Park?

      Will slots come to Arlington Park?
    Daily Herald photo Illustration

By Kerry Lester
Politics and Projects Writer

Arlington Park's opposition to a paragraph in a gambling bill may have played a role in holding up the whole deal, the legislation's sponsor says.

By a 6-5 vote, lawmakers on a House committee voted down Skokie Democrat Rep. Lou Lang's plan to allow five new casinos throughout the state and allow slots at racetracks, Chicago airports and downstate fairgrounds.

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Arlington Park supported the plan on the condition that language was removed that would require racetracks to reach peace agreements with labor unions to be eligible for gambling licenses, Vice President Jim Stumpf said.

The racetrack is currently working out a compromise with food and beverage workers over representation of additional workers.

Stumpf called setting such conditions on eligibility "a terrible precedent. ... Arlington Park is very union friendly."

Lang told committee members on Wednesday that he had an amendment filed to remove that portion of the legislation if the bill passed out of committee.

"The amendment is prepared to take the clause that Arlington doesn't like right out of the bill. It could happen as early as tomorrow. I'll run the amendment and take that out of the bill as soon as we have an agreement," he said.

Regardless, six lawmakers -- four Republicans and two Democrats -- voted against the legislation. They included Reps. Ed Sullivan of Mundelein, Dan Burke of Chicago; Dan Brady of Springfield; Maria Berrios of Chicago; Mike Bost of Carbondale and Jim Watson of Jacksonville.

"While it is true that Arlington Park supports the bill other than the one paragraph, it's also true to say Arlington Park's people caused one or more of the people on that committee to vote no," Lang said Thursday. "It's unfortunate. ... I'm not blaming (Arlington Park), they're entitled to use whatever influence they have here."

Lang said he'll try to bring the legislation back for a vote in the coming days.

"I'm working overtime to try to make this happen," he said.

Lang Thursday filed an amendment to the legislation removing the controversial language.

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