Hawthorne to redevelop race course into racino; Arlington International Racecourse to find ‘higher and better purpose’

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rendering of hawthorn racino

Hawthorne Race Course is expected to start construction work in September to redevelop the site into Illinois’ first racino.

The Illinois Gaming Board voted unanimously on July 30 to preliminarily approve Hawthorne’s plans to add slot machines, table games and sports betting at the racetrack, the Chicago Tribune has reported.

The redeveloped track will include upgraded horse race wagering facilities, a multilevel parking garage and what are described as “new dining options.” The new casino is scheduled to open in 2021.

While Hawthorne is planning to expand with a casino, Arlington International Racecourse owner Churchill Downs is looking at pulling up stakes entirely and relocating the track from its longtime northwest suburban home, the Tribune says.

During an earnings call Thursday, Churchill Downs CEO Bill Carstanjen said that long term, “the economics don’t work” for the racetrack at its current location.
“That land will have a higher and better purpose for something else at some point,” Carstanjen said. “Long term, that land gets sold, and that license will need to move if it’s going to continue.”

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