One week after the Illinois Racing Board moved to draft regulations for wagering on historical racing, Arlington International Racecourse general manager Tony Petrillo said the suburban Chicago racetrack does not view the machines as a means to compete against nearby casinos or bars and restaurants that have slot machines.
“There's very little revenue out of historical gaming,” Petrillo told Daily Herald columnist Christopher Placek. “We've seen in markets that have other competition, they just are not viable. It's just not a viable solution to the long-term sustainability of the industry, and that's what we are interested in.”
The Illinois Racing Board responded to a request by the state's two other Thoroughbred racetracks – Hawthorne on Chicago's South Side and Fairmount Park in downstate Illinois – to draft regulations permitting historical racing. The machines have provided revenue for purses and racetrack operations in Arkansas, Kentucky and Wyoming and recently were approved in Virginia as a means of reviving Colonial Downs.
Historical racing machines must be approved by a Joint Committee on Administrative Rules, representing both houses of the general assembly, and by Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner's policy advisers.
Petrillo holds out hope Illinois lawmakers will approve casino gambling at state racetracks.
The comment by Petrillo comes at a time when Arlington's parent company, Churchill Downs, Inc., is making a $60-million investment in the “Derby City Gaming” historical racing facility at its former Trackside OTB in Louisville, Ky. – across the river from the Horseshoe Casino in southern Indiana.
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