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No more hurdles for Villa Park OTB
By Kathryn Grondin | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 3/25/2008 12:03 AM

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Villa Park leaders believe a trifecta is possible with an off-track betting parlor on North Avenue.

The board voted unanimously in favor of a zoning change to allow Arlington Park's proposed 10,000-square-foot combination betting parlor and Italian restaurant at Addison Road in the village.

Trustees previously voted in favor of the concept of an off-track betting facility, and the Illinois Racing Board then approved the necessary permit.

"It's a good step. It's a move forward in development," Trustee John Davis said afterward. "It's just one of many projects."

Trustees say they expect the facility will be successful in its own right and also attract more development to the long-struggling North Park Mall and North Avenue-- a trifecta for the village.

"It will be the resurgence of North Avenue as we know it," Trustee Tom Cullerton said. "This will make people stop."

The vote followed comments by opposing residents, who cited concerns about gambling addicts, increased traffic and moral and religious conflicts. Opponents were unhappy with the decision.

"I'm saddened by it," said Jerry Prosapio of Gambling Exposed in Crestwood. "It's going to lead to new addicts, bankruptcies and crime -- the ABCs of gambling. For the little bit of money, they're going to see so many people's lives change because of it."

Gambling opponent Kathy Gilroy added: "I think I confused them with the facts; the negative consequences of gambling and that horse-racing is a dying industry."

About half of the facility would be devoted to a Salerno Pincente Ristorante, with the remainder housing the off-track betting parlor affiliated with the Arlington Heights racetrack. The wagering portion would be separate from the restaurant and monitored so that only individuals 18 and older can enter.

It is expected to generate $100,000 in betting profits annually for the village and provide 30 to 50 jobs for area residents.

If construction proceeds without problems, the facility could open by the end of the year, Arlington Park officials say.