QC Downs To Re-Open? - News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

QC Downs To Re-Open?


A bill is working its way through the Illinois house that would allow slot machines at racetracks. Having machines there would mean re-opening the track to live horse racing, something the downs hasn't seen in about 20 years. 

Horse racing experts who've visited the downs say the track itself is in good shape, but they have no idea how much it would cost to rehab the place. 

They tell us the lighting and plumbing may need work, but Arlington Park which owns this track is interested in having slot machines here and they'd do whatever it takes to make it happen, including re-opening this track. 

"I remember going there years ago and it was more entertainment," East Moline Mayor John Thodos says, "Have a great meal, make some bets, read your pamphlets pretending like you knew how to read them." 

Mayor Thodos has lived in East Moline all his life. He remembers what it was like going to the downs with his family back when it was open, but since it closed its doors in the early 90s, the track hasn't seen much action since. 

"When they closed in '93, we haven't been receiving anything really," Thodos says, "You get a property tax, but cities only get 20 percent of the property tax." 

Thodos estimates the city only gets between $10,000-$20,000 worth of taxes from the downs. Passing a bill to allow slot machines there would change all that. 

The bill would require any race track with slot machines to have live horse racing, hence the name 'racinos,' and the revenue from the machines would go towards the grand prize in the race. 

Re-opening the downs would mean more revenue and jobs for the city. 

"I think it'd be good for the area," QC Downs Patron Dan Dague says, "It'll attract people that don't come here that often." 

"Everybody in the Quad Cities misses that live racing," Jack Yusko, who used to race at the downs, "It's a lot nicer to watch them live than it is to bet them on the screens." 

The bill would put 350 slot machines in the QC Downs to start, with the potential for up to 900 in two years. Sixteen states already have something similar, and horse racing experts say this would bring the industry back to Illinois, boosting revenue and the economy. 

Still many are skeptical of the chances the bill will pass. 

"Slim to none," Dague says, "I just think there's too much casino pressure to not have anymore slots at the race track." 

"If we get something out of it, that's exceptional," Thodos says, "It's long overdue, but I've been here before so when the legislation passes, that's be great because it's revenue currently we're not receiving." 

KWQC spoke to local representatives today; both representative Pat Verschoore and Rich Morthland say the bill has a good shot at passing in the next two weeks, and they both plan to vote yes for it. 

They tell KWQC the bill's sponsor thinks he has enough votes to overrule the governor should he veto it, and also there have been some changes to the bill that might make it more favorable to Governor Quinn.  

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