The ITHA requires the Illinois attorney general’s office to investigate whether Churchill Downs committed state or federal antitrust violations. This happened because it precluded casino gaming and diminished pari-mutuel wagering at a site near its Rivers Casino.
The ITHA stipulated that Churchill spent 20 years pursuing the authority to operate a casino at the Arlington Park racetrack in Arlington Heights. But, after purchasing the majority stake in Rivers, maneuvered to end gaming at the nearby track.
It claims: “Churchill abruptly abandoned its Arlington casino plan and, in moving to sell the property. It insisted the site’s future use would be “higher and better” than horse racing. This effectively ended the continuation of meaningful pari-mutuel wagering activity.”
State officials intended the Arlington casino to create new tax revenue for the state and local governments. It also intended it to boost pari-mutuel wagering and enhance the racing program and create scores of new racing-related jobs.
Churchill is planning to accept bids for the purchase of Arlington in mid-June. Amid widespread concern that Churchill might be attempting to preclude a future owner of Arlington from engaging in forms of gaming. In early May, the Arlington Heights village board approved an ordinance intended to prohibit Churchill from placing certain restrictions.
In a letter to the Illinois attorney general’s office, Mr. Campbell stated that the ITHA had brought to the attention of Illinois racing regulators a reported offer in 2019 by a group of prospective owners to purchase Arlington from Churchill with the intention of continuing racing and developing a casino on the property. Churchill declined the offer, but he never stated so publicly.