Updated on 03/12/2012 12:25PM

Ontario Lottery recommends redirecting gaming subsidies from tracks to government


The Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation, which owns and operates the slot machines at Ontario racetracks, has recommended in a report that all of the racing subsidies from the machines be re-directed to the provincial government as of March 13, 2013, the Ontario government said on Monday.

The recommendation from the lottery corporation dovetails with an earlier report prepared by an economist analyzing Ontario's budget problems that said the province should reconsider providing the subsidies to racing. Last year, the Standardbred and Thoroughbred industries in Ontario received $375 million in subsidies from the slot machines, and they are forecast to receive $345 million this year.

"That's more than is spent on road safety or water safety," the Ontario government said in a response to the lottery's report posted on its website Monday. "It's also enough money to pay for more than two million house calls from doctors, nine million hours of home care, or 27,800 hip or knee replacement surgeries."

Under agreements with the province, Ontario's 17 racetracks receive 20 percent of the revenue from casinos located on their properties. That amount is split between the tracks and the horsemen.

Ontario's racing industry has been lobbying against proposals to redirect the money, contending that the subsidies have spurred investment in breeding and the province's agricultural sector.

The Ontario government is attempting to close a $16 billion budget deficit. The government's proposed budget is expected to be submitted by the end of March.