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Villa Park off-track betting parlor inching forward
By Kathryn Grondin | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 1/15/2009 12:02 AM

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A combination off-track betting parlor and Italian restaurant is moving forward in Villa Park after some delays, village officials say.

Arlington Park representatives had hoped the Trackside facility might open by the end of 2008, but negotiations with the North Park Mall owner delayed work, Acting Village Manager Robert Niemann said.

"It's moving forward slowly," Niemann said.

Plans requiring village approval are expected any day and the village's planning and zoning commission likely will review them next month, Niemann said.

This past spring, the village board voted in favor of the plans, and the Illinois Racing Board authorized the necessary permit despite some objections by gambling opponents.

The Arlington Heights racetrack proposes to jointly operate a 10,000-square-foot combination betting parlor and Salerno Pincente Ristorante at Addison Road and North Avenue.

The wagering portion would be separate from the restaurant and monitored so only individuals 18 and older can enter.

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

Restaurant co-owner Frank Pincente said Wednesday they are now aiming to start construction this spring and open in September or October.

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 stretch.

"The OTB is a crucial part to the development and long-term fiscal stability of North Avenue and this village," said Trustee Tom Cullerton, who pursued the project on the village's behalf.

Oakbrook Terrace's off-track betting parlor serves as an ideal example: That city's portion of betting profits was roughly $680,000 last year, Cullerton said. Villa Park's facility will be smaller.

"In today's day and age of municipal budgets shrinking and costs rising, the OTB brings to us a real and consistent revenue source that is not an extra tax on residents or a new fee or anything else," Cullerton said.