05/18/2012 11:30AM

Fort Erie not included on list of 'gaming zones'


The Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation did not include the town of Fort Erie in its proposed list of 29 “gaming zones” for the province of Ontario, which means Fort Erie Race Track will probably not be able to operate slot machines again.

On Thursday, the OLG identified the zones where existing or new gaming facilities would be permitted following municipal and other approvals.

Fort Erie’s racetrack slots program was terminated on April 30, as part of the OLG’s plan to phase out the existing program at Ontario’s 17 racetracks by March 31, 2013. Ten percent of the slot machines’ net profits went to the racetracks and another 10 percent to purses.

The Fort Erie Live Racing Consortium, which leases the racetrack property from owner Nordic Gaming, had approached the OLG with a plan to run the racetrack slots operation privately, but Thursday’s announcement would seem to put an end to that possibility.

On Friday Jim Thibert, chief executive officer of the consortium, published a letter to Fort Erie management, employees, horsepeople, goods and services suppliers, and customers explaining the situation.

“This also means the Fort Erie Race Track would have no source of revenue beyond on-site and simulcast markets, which would leave an approximately $5.6 million operating deficit and the horse industry would be short about $5 million for purse accounts,” said Thibert.

The board of the consortium is scheduled to hold its annual meeting on June 5.