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Windsor "Shocked" By Slot Closure


Published: March 14, 2012 2:38 pm ET

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Officials and staff from Windsor Raceway reacted to the news that its slot facility would close at the end of April 2012 with shock, disappointment and confusion noting that the move would affect 217 full-time staff in addition more than 1,500 full-time equivalent jobs.

"I feel sick," Wayne Markowsky, raceway janitor for 14 years, told CBC. "I'm turning 57. I gotta look for a new job. It’ll be tough. But the good Lord will take care of us. We'll start praying."

"The Ontario government needs to address its revenue problem by implementing a fair and progressive tax system," said OPSEU president Warren Thomas. "Cutting jobs does not help our province's bottom line."

The release from Windsor appears below.

Windsor Raceway was shocked to learn today of the OLG decision to close the slots at the Windsor Raceway. It is disappointed at the lack of industry consultation in the processes by which the OLG proposed modernization of gaming in Ontario and the resulting Ontario government decision to cancel the Slots at Racetracks program. Despite being an affected stakeholder Windsor Raceway was not consulted by either Don Drummond or the other members of his commission in advance of the release of the Drummond Report nor did the OLG consult Windsor Raceway in the preparation of their report on the modernization of gaming in Ontario.

Although the OLG stated rationale behind removing the slot machines from the Windsor Raceway is to ensure the long term viability of Caesars Windsor, the majority of patrons who frequent the slots at Windsor Raceway are local and/or elderly patrons who do not want to, and likely will not, migrate to Caesars Windsor.

The OLG stated rationale that it is protecting Caesars Windsor because it employs the largest number of people focuses on the approximately 217 people employed by the OLG at the slots at Windsor Raceway but it fails to take into account the employees of Windsor Raceway and the horse racing jobs tied to the Windsor Raceway operations that will be directly impacted by this OLG decision. Windsor Raceway has advised the government that in addition to the 217 OLG jobs another 1,582 full time equivalent jobs are at risk.

In terms of the future of the Windsor Raceway, elimination of the Slots at Racetracks program changes the Windsor Raceway business model and there will be a material negative impact on its horse racing program and associated jobs. Over the next several weeks Windsor Raceway will consult with its stakeholders, particularly the Ontario Racing Commission, to determine the exact impact.

Windsor Raceway takes this opportunity to wish the best to all of those families who will be negatively impacted by the OLG decision to close its slots at Windsor Raceway.

In an effort to consolidate comments, please post commentary on the announcement note: OLG Closing Slots At Windsor, Hiawatha, Fort Erie.

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