03/29/2013 12:44PM

Ontario legislators signal opposition to end of slots-at-tracks program

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TORONTO – Ontario’s legislature adopted a motion Thursday that would extend the slots-at-racetracks program beyond Sunday’s closing deadline and require referendums before new casinos are built in the province.

The motion, introduced by Taras Natyshak, a New Democratic Party member of provincial parliament, was backed by the NDP and Progressive Conservatives in a 53-33 vote.

The motion is not binding on the ruling Liberal government, but does make official the opposition’s position on the province’s gaming policy.

The Ontario Horse Racing Industry Association called on Premier Kathleen Wynne’s government “to accept the will of the majority of MPPs and immediately work with opposition parties, our industry, and other stakeholders.

“OHRIA is calling on Premier Wynne to restore [the slots-at-racetracks program] through 2013, while horse racing is integrated into a new revenue-sharing arrangement,” said Sue Leslie, chair of the organization.

“The industry needs to know the financial commitment for the long term immediately, so breeders and horsemen can confidently invest today given the five-year investment needed to breed and own racehorses.”

Earlier this month, Wynne announced that horse racing would be integrated into the province’s gaming strategy, in concert with the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp.

The Ontario lottery announced last year that it was terminating the slots-at-racetracks program, under which the racetracks and the horsemen each received 10 percent of the proceeds with the hosting municipalities receiving a lesser share and the province pocketing the balance.

The Liberals have promised transitional funding agreements to help the industry cope with the loss of slots revenues. Woodbine and Fort Erie have reached agreements, the details of which will not be made public until all of the province’s racetracks have completed negotiations.

Donald More than 1 year ago
the government will never have enough money ,it is a bottomless pit of waste,tracks were dead years ago ,if slots had not come in,many including Fort Erie,Mohawk were on the verge of closing.,here we are years later and they are still on life support,The industry has serious issues and the taxpayers of Ontario cannot foot the bill any longer,Build Casinos ,thats a seperate issue,but the slots at tracks should go ,if tracks close ,purses shrink its a shame but its 2013 not 1998.Before you swear at me as a horse hater,I love the races ,have been a thoroughbred owner in the past,right now I follow NY racing ,and am not happy with some of the things going on there,but as I said the industry has serious issues on both sides of the border.Proping it up with slot revenue wont solve the problems .The pie has only so many wedges folks.
jugheadluvr More than 1 year ago
Prior to now, the Slots at Racetracks Program gave to Healthcare and Education, $2 Billion dollars per year so you can imagine now how long a wait/how big a deficit we'll have. If the government had've listened to the horsemen and kept the SARP intact, tax payers wouldn't be footing the bill.
jugheadluvr More than 1 year ago
Not to mention Windsor just realized the breakfast program they have in their schools was funded by SARP...$1 Million a year...gone! There will be a lot of empty tummies after April 1st.
Nathan More than 1 year ago
40 kids in a classroom and 10 hour waits in emergency rooms. the racetracks should not be getting any slots money. the province is $250 BILLION in the hole. it is BANKRUPT.
martymar . More than 1 year ago
There are about 50k affected by the racing industry in toronto. So I guess those people collecting UI is better ? There is no correlations that the money from slot machines will be directed to education and health industry. You really have no arguement and you should join your socialize friends