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Article posted: 10/26/2012 5:30 AM

Murphy, Page differ on gambling, slots for Arlington Park

Matt Murphy, left, opposes David Page in the 27th Senate District

Matt Murphy, left, opposes David Page in the 27th Senate District

 
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With Arlington Park situated in the middle of the state's 27th Senate District, both candidates for the seat are speaking out about where they stand on expanding gambling in Illinois.

Incumbent Republican Sen. Matt Murphy said his views on gambling have shifted over the years, and he is now an ardent supporter of expansion because of what it means for the racetrack.

"The first couple years I was down there (in Springfield) I thought I could hold out for a better bill, a narrower bill that frankly didn't have all the casinos in it," Murphy said. "Over time it just became clearer and clearer that there wasn't going to be a bill like that."

In August, Gov. Pat Quinn vetoed a plan that would have allowed up to 1,200 slot machines at Arlington Park, as well as new casinos in Lake County, Chicago and elsewhere.

Murphy said he will support an effort to override veto. He is unsure whether the necessary two-thirds majority of his senate colleagues will join him.

Supporters of the bill, including Arlington Heights Village President Arlene Mulder and track officials, have said slot machines are necessary to help keep Arlington Park in business.

"It's a big taxpayer, it's an iconic institution in the district. People love the track," Murphy said. "If this is the form help for Arlington is going to come in, the question is 'Are you going to help Arlington Park or not?'"

Murphy's opponent, Democrat David Page accuses Murphy of a "flip-flop" when it comes to gambling.

"I just don't get how you come from one point of view to the other," Page said. "It seems like two different ideologies." Page claims that part of the reason Murphy changed his mind may have to do with campaign contributions. According to the Illinois State Board of Elections, Murphy's campaign has received $2,000 from Arlington Park since March 2012.

Page said he isn't necessarily against gambling, but thinks it should not be the way for Illinois to dig itself out of its economic problems.

"In terms of growing our economy we should focus on businesses that can help build a community," Page said. "Gambling is not the first place I would go because I don't think it helps build constructive economy or a healthy community."

Page, who serves as president of the Arlington Heights Elementary District 25 school board, said that while he also values Arlington Park, he thinks gambling has been expanded irresponsibly in Illinois.

As part of Quinn's veto of the gambling bill the governor pointed to an overall lack of ethics provisions in the legislation.

"It is critically important that any expansion of gaming in Illinois be undertaken thoughtfully and carefully," Quinn wrote in his veto message. "We have one opportunity to get it right."

Page, who works as a financial adviser, said he would rather look at how to help increase small businesses and manufacturing than use gambling to fix the state's financial problems.

The 27th District includes parts of Arlington Heights, Barrington, Buffalo Grove, Inverness, Palatine, Wheeling, Prospect Heights and South Barrington.

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