Arlington Park says historical racing machines can't compete with casinos

Aug 3, 2018 9:14 AM

Arlington Park general manager Tony Petrillo has told a local newspaper that the northwest suburban Chicago racetrack views historical racing machines as insufficient to compete against nearby casinos or bars and restaurants that have slot machines.

The historical racing machines function like slot machines allowing players to bet on previously run races using highly limited past performance data. The Illinois Racing Board (IRB) is now drafting regulations for wagering on historical racing hoping the machines can be implemented as a pari-mutuel activity and thus legal under current Illinois laws.

“There's very little revenue out of historical gaming,” Petrillo told Daily Herald columnist Christopher Placek. “We've seen in markets that have other competition, they just are not viable. It's just not a viable solution to the long-term sustainability of the industry, and that's what we are interested in.”

The other two remaining Illinois racetracks, Hawthorne just south of downtown Chicago and Fairmount Park, downstate near St. Louis, both have endorsed the IRB plan.

Currently, Arlington's parent company, Churchill Downs, Inc., is making a $60-million investment in the “Derby City Gaming” historical racing facility at its former Trackside OTB in Louisville, Ky. just across the river from the Horseshoe Casino in southern Indiana.

Across Kentucky, where casino gambling is not currently legal, historical racing terminals have helped to bolster the thoroughbred racing purse structure.