Slot machines were a major topic of conversation at the annual meeting of shareholders in Churchill Downs Inc. stock in Louisville, Ky., on Thursday. CDI, which owns Arlington Park and Quad City Downs harness track in Illinois, would be a major beneficiary if Gov. Pat Quinn signs recently passed legislation authorizing five new casinos and permitting slot machines at state racetracks and Chicago's two airports.
Richard Duchossois, CDI's largest individual shareholder and the chairman of Arlington Park, was quoted in the Louisville Courier-Journal saying slots would put the suburban Chicago track “into the upper bracket of purses” nationwide. If Quinn vetoes the bill, however, Duchossois fears some Illinois tracks would not survive.
Bob Evans, who becomes chairman of the board upon the retirement of Carl Pollard, called slots in Illinois a “two-edged sword” for Churchill Downs and other Kentucky racetracks that already have to compete with slot machines or casinos in Indiana, Illinois and West Virginia, and swoon will have competition across the river from Northern Kentucky in Ohio.
“Eventually we're going to figure it out here,” Evans said of Kentucky and its inability to overcome opposition to expanded gaming in the Bluegrass State. “We can't possibly be last again. Hopefully we'll figure it out before we're the last ones to do it.”
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