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Track not entitled to special treatment
Letter to the Editor
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Published: 1/28/2008 12:03 AM

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To the editor: Here we go again; Saturday's Daily Herald reports a statement by Arlington Park President Roy Arnold, that his business "will not survive" without slot machines. This mantra has been coming out of Arlington Park for years. It's as if somewhere it has been written that Arlington Park has the divine right to have slot machines. What nonsense!

Arlington Park is a business. In the free enterprise system, a business will succeed or fail when and if it offers a useful or desirable product or service at a fair price and when it operates efficiently enough so that revenues exceed costs by a suitable margin -- thereby providing a reasonable return to those who invest.

If Arlington Park cannot be profitable it should be allowed to fail. This is what happens in the real world. Businesses start, businesses struggle and many with flawed business models fail.

I enjoy going to Arlington Park a couple of times each season. It's a truly beautiful facility and I love to look at the horses and the greenery and watch the patrons. I usually bet $2 on each race and hope to win enough to pay for the cost of my entrance fee and my nachos and soft drink. I'd like Arlington Park to remain as a community asset -- but not if the community has to further absorb the negative social costs of more gambling.

If the fact that a business is failing justifies installing slots on the premises, then why not put them in every Sears store? Sears is having a tough time these days; and that company's success or failure will have a heck of a lot more impact on our regional economy than Arlington does.

By extension, the state could establish a system whereby any Illinois business that is showing negative performance numbers would be entitled to have slot machines on their premises. Fair is fair!

Why should a failing Arlington Park be singled out for special legislative or regulatory privileges?

The answer is: it shouldn't! And our legislative leaders should see that it doesn't get such privileges.

Charles F. Falk