No Slot Machines Could Hurt Future Of Fairmount Park

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COLLINSVILLE, IL (KPLR)-- Illinois will not be getting any new casinos because Governor Pat Quinn has vetoed a bill to expand gambling. That also means horse racing tracks in Illinois will not be able to have slot machines.

Fairmount Park draws respectable enough crowds, averaging about 5,000 people each day for around 66 days of racing between April and September. So why do they want slot machines?

“In 15 other states that have allowed slots at racetracks, those racetracks have grown, they`ve done very well, they`ve been able to attract better horses, the number of horses, they`re able to race more racing days, and our difficulty is we have to compete with those racetracks,” said Fairmount Park President Brian Zander.

But Governor Quinn said no, worried that there wouldn`t be enough regulation of expanded Illinois gambling.

“The bill that was on my desk was woefully deficient when it came to protecting integrity and honesty in the regulation of gambling in our state,” said Gov. Quinn.

Governor Quinn says he opposed the bill because there was a lack of oversight and regulation. But the powerful casino lobby in Illinois also opposed the bill because they didn`t want the competition of having slot machines at racetracks.

So without slots, Fairmount Park says it will only be able to pay winning horses $5,000 to $6,000 per race, not the $ 15,000 or $16,000 they could get at a track with slot machines.

“Governor Quinn needs to wake up and realize, smell the roses if you know what I`m talking about. Because there`s a lot of people wanting slot machines over here,” said race fan Jeff Patek.

“With the slot machines, while you`re in between races or it`s not that crowded like casinos, you could spend the money and have a good time,” said race fan Jerry Foerstel.

Fairmount Park officials say the track is in no danger in the next year or two. But they worry about being here five or ten years from now if they keep losing the top quality horses to the fatter purses at tracks with slot machines.

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