Arlington horse track not seeking casino license, owners say

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. (WLS) -- Arlington Race Course is getting out of the game.

The tracks owners announced Wednesday that they aren't going to try for a casino license.

"I had a lot of somber calls to say the least," said thoroughbred trainer Chris Block. "A lot of somber faces that carried into today."

The owners of Arlington Park have been lobbying the state legislature for more than a decade hoping to get slot machines and table games to compete with casinos, which the legislature approved in May.

The hope was that the infusion of cash would save horse racing in Illinois.

"The bill passes with slot machines and table games. They got it all, and yet they are refusing the license," said David McCaffrey with the Illinois Thoroughbred Horseman's Association.

In a statement Churchill Downs, who owns Arlington, said, "[The] economic terms under which Arlington would be granted a casino gaming license do not provide an acceptable financial return and we cannot responsibly proceed."

"I'm disappointed in it because I worked on this almost 20 years. Help the horse racing industry stay solvent," said Senator Terry Link, 30th District.

However, the Hawthorne race track in Stickney has a different plan. They are excited about putting a so-called Racino in the facility.

While they said they realize Arlington's importance in the Midwest, they also said in a statement: "Race tracks and horsemen groups have worked together for decades to bring casino gaming to our industry as a way to increase purses and save Illinois racing jobs. Churchill Downs has reneged on that effort and is abandoning the people and families of Illinois horse racing."
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