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Ontario government to provide $50 million in transitional funds to tracks losing slots
By Bill Tallon
ETOBICOKE, Ontario – The Ontario Government announced Thursday that it will provide up to $50 million for three years of transitional funding to help the province’s racetracks cope with the loss of slot machine revenue.
The Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation, which oversees the slots programs at Ontario’s 17 racetracks, announced this spring that the 20 percent of slots revenue which had been split between racetracks and horsemen would be phased out on March 31, 2013.
Three Ontario border racetracks – Fort Erie, Windsor Raceway, and Hiawatha Horse Park – had their slot machines removed by the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation on April 30. Fort Erie announced earlier this week that it would close permanently on Dec. 31.
The exact nature and extent of the transitional funding will not be known until late this summer and will follow consultations between the industry and three former provincial cabinet ministers – Elmer Buchanan, John Snobelen, and John Wilkinson.
The government also announced that Employment Ontario will help displaced workers find jobs and training.
“We’re happy there’s a panel, but we’re really not happy about the word ‘transition’”, said Sue Leslie, president of the Ontario Horse Racing Industry Association. “That’s not the avenue that OHRIA wants to go down.
"This industry is going to die, unless we can establish a plan for sustainability. It’s going to be up to us, and our task force, to change the panel’s mandate."
The Ontario Horse Racing Industry Association recently announced the creation of a task force which will be chaired by Stanley Sadinsky, a lawyer and former chairman of the Ontario Racing Commission. The task force will report to the Ontario Horse Racing Industry Association by the end of June.
“The breeding industry, in particular, is feeling the immediate impact of the uncertainties regarding industry programs that are designed to promote the breeding and sale of Ontario racehorses,” said Leslie.
Mr. Tallon, Please show me where in the Government Release there is reference to Race Tracks receiving the transitional funding. As this is an OMAFRA program my interpretation indicates the funding will be allocated to those who have agricultural investment in farms and bloodstock. I think your headline is misleading and inaccurate.
Robin... Give us your 5 minutes and let's hear how you can revitalize the horse racing business. You say subsidies...It was a business partnership..The tracks gave the Ont Lottery Corp space (building and parking) and access to their market...In return they received payment of 10%...Not unreasonable... Yes the tracks are not blameless...Fort Erie had an absentee owner corporation until the current Non for Profit group took over 2 years ago. There was limited marketing towards a new generation of racegoers under the previous regime...They bled the track dry. The new NFP group hasn't had a chance....The Fort Erie Race track is scheduled to run its last race Oct 30th this year after 115 years. Our provincial (mis)government pulled the financial rug out without offering consultation or the small tracks a chance to prepare a survival plan. There was some complaisance non urgency previously that the new NFP group was trying to address.
Reading this, you realize just how little Sue Leslie and those in charge of running horse racing in Ontario know about the sport. Indeed, its shameful that, after 15 years of subsidies, the situation is actually worse than before slots were introduced, and, apart from continued reliance upon them, nobody has an alternative more creative plan. Give me 5 minutes, and I'll show exactly how this can fixed and how, by using the sport of horse racing as the vehicle, its longterm survival would be guaranteed.
- 1.Posted 12/12/2013 10:03AM
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