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Home rule power and racetrack slots
Letter to the Editor
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Published: 2/6/2008 1:13 AM

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To the Arlington Heights village board:

Many of us continue to believe that "casino slots" would be a huge negative for our community.

When addressing the board, I mentioned that two of the AP casino proponents who spoke before me were businessmen residing in the affluent suburbs of Deer Park and Hinsdale.

My short comments were then followed by those of Arlington Park's president (Roy Arnold), who is a resident of Barrington.

If we consider how quickly the boards of Barrington, Hinsdale and Deer Park would line up against casino-style gambling in their communities, we gain the clearest understanding as to why so many residents of Arlington Heights don't want that type of activity in our home town.

Providing reasonable support for the interests of our local business leaders is very important, but is it reasonable for these leaders to request accommodations from Arlington Heights residents that we well know would not be supported in the communities in which they reside?

Many hold the strong opinion that casino slots are not required to support thoroughbred racing. Arlington Park's owner, Churchill Downs, Inc., has yet to convince government authorities for its flagship facility in Louisville that slot machines are the right approach.

Even if casino slots were horse racing's solution, they would not be the right choice for Arlington Heights. A community so properly conservative that it frowns on drinking bars operating independently of a food restaurant already knows why a slot-machine facility makes a bad neighbor.

For many of us, the issue has never been about gambling, however, but rather casino-slots style gambling.

I visit Arlington Park several times each summer as a matter of family tradition. Horse racing with its many aspects other than gambling is for the most part favorably regarded and a rich part of Arlington Heights history.

The rather bad reputation of casino slots is well deserved and also based on experience.

Just as I have no doubt the "sky will not fall" if Arlington Park becomes a de facto casino, I also have no doubt that such a shift would make Arlington Heights a less desirable address and place to live.

The exercise of discretion over the types of business activities to allow in a given area is "bread and butter" local governance. This is especially true for gambling.

Steven Weseman

Arlington Heights