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Transition Panel Member: Downsizing Horse Racing Is Inevitable

Published: June 12, 2012 8:34 am ET

Last Comment: June 16, 2012 1:39 am ET | 17 Comment(s) | Jump to Comments

Comments from one of the three members named to help transition horse racing away from its revenue sharing agreement with the Ontario government indicate a clear movement to downsize the industry that employs close to 60,000 full and part-time workers and churns billions in economic impact to the province.

“It’s going to be in a reduced form. We’re not kidding ourselves about that,” Elmer Buchanan told The Belleville Intelligencer Sunday. Buchanan, a former agriculture minister during the NDP government's time in power in the early 1990s, is currently the vice-chairman of the Ontario Farm Products Marketing Commission.

“We certainly believe there will be fewer people involved in the racing industry. Our job will be to look at what can be done to develop a downsized horse racing industry that is sustainable.”

Buchanan urged industry participants to work with the panel before the August deadline.

“If people don’t come forward with ideas than our panel will not have much of a report.”

Buchanan's comments came to light just prior to a report submitted to the Standing Committee of Finance and Economic Affairs by OHRIA .That report indicates that the slots-at-racetracks program was the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation's top product line over the past decade, far exceeding resort casinos, charity casinos and lottery & bingo.

June 16, 2012 - 1:39 amI've worked with horses all

I've worked with horses all my life. Watching the horses is a lot more exciting then going to a Casino and just seeing card games, slots or bingo tables. The Government is a problem and always has been. Thanks McGuinty for taking away jobs that meant something to sooo many horse people. Who wants to work elsewhere when you feel you can accomplish more by working with the horses. The sad part in all this, the horses are losing out.

June 13, 2012 - 7:36 pmGary: Unfortunately these

Chuck Ibey SAID...

Gary: Unfortunately these guys are not there to "get it". They are their to "transition" people into new jobs !!!!!!!! and downsize the industry....sorry it's a stacked deck committee! imo

Chuck Ibey

June 13, 2012 - 6:24 pmWe can only hope that Mr.

Lynne Magee SAID...

We can only hope that Mr. Snobelen and Mr. Wilkinson come to the table with more open minds and better prepared. The reports that OHR
IA presented clearly show that revenue from slots has been growing while that from casinos is not. One would hope that, if he takes the time, Mr. Buchanan should be able to follow the green and red lines on that chart and realize that the SAR program should be preserved so that horse racing does not need to be downsized in Ontario.

June 13, 2012 - 5:58 amI am embarrassed as a

Ian Dow SAID...

I am embarrassed as a BUCHANAN to the nonsense from Elmer Buchanan, if this is an example of the thinking of the "Brain trust" who are supposed to help our industry then we are really screwed.

Just another example of a politician with his nose planted firmly in the trough with absolutely no idea of what he's talking about!

June 13, 2012 - 1:06 amIts really comforting to know

Its really comforting to know that Mr. Buchanan comes to the table as a member of this panel with an open mind!!! Lets hope Mr. Snobelen will bring some insight and balance to the discussions.

June 12, 2012 - 7:35 pmwhy should horse racing be

why should horse racing be "downsized" ??? that is another stupid statement from someone else who has no idea what racing even means to people.....this is our livelihood you are ruining and as for track owners, some of them would prefer to NOT have racing ...they would just like to have the bucks roll thru the doors.

June 12, 2012 - 6:05 pmJohn Snobelen, who is one of

John Snobelen, who is one of the 3 who will report back to McMeeken actually gets it. Lets hope he can get through to these people.

June 12, 2012 - 4:51 pmTime to send a message to the

greg price SAID...

Time to send a message to the liberals a message........17 racetracks in Ontario........ all have owners..... they should remove these slots right away...... they road our backs for years and have left us out to dry.. why should we support the OLG anymore... They are only competition for us.......... They are competing in the same market as us.... let's keep supporting them...:........... good idea...

June 12, 2012 - 3:38 pmI personnally don't have any

Chuck Ibey SAID...

I personnally don't have any suggestions that these paid assassins would listen to. Who states racing needs down-sizing? Why not keep encouraging growth in a very large agricultural sector. Cut areas of gaming that aren't profitable and need to be put to death.
We should all realize that part of this cut-back is not because the racing product has not vastly improved! It is all about some tracks that just took their % of money and did nothing to improve their facility. So apply benchmarks and deal with the real culprits; not the racing fraternity.
I know I will be proven right in that I again will say get ready for the slots at bingo halls across Ontario.
Great job Paul Godfrey! Blind people can see through this move by the government. Wouldn't want to leave us with slots to compete with those big private bingo hall owners would they.

June 12, 2012 - 3:21 pmGeorge I think you are

Joe Riga SAID...

George I think you are missing the main point and fighting the wrong battle my friend. It's not so much the issue of where to put the casinos and where more money is won or lost. The problem for the racing industry is that whichever way the government chooses to go they do not intend to continue sharing the profits with the racing industry. That much they have made clear thus far. That is the battle you need to fight. Not where to have the casino.

June 12, 2012 - 12:20 pmOur sentiments exactly Mr.

Terry DeVos SAID...

Our sentiments exactly Mr. Hall. What's the point. When I read this it makes me realize how little research has been done on his part in understanding this industry and what has happened since the announcement.
What OHRIA has presented through their compehensive reseach and presentation with graphs to show exactly why it has been a successful partnership is Outstanding.
Mr. Buchanan is in a position, you would think, to of had these numbers already and studied them before making such comments regarding the downsizing of The Horse Racing Industry in a "Newspaper catching Title!!!" By downsizing what does he mean? Does it mean : don't allow any foreign investments into Ontario, don't employ 60,000 people, don't contribute to the rural economy, don't contribute to Health and Education, don't spend money in this province, don't contribute 2.1 Billion to the provicial economy, don't spend 260 million in personal income taxes. Why would anyone want to sacrifice all the positives that the Slot Share Program has provided for Ontario by downsizing!

June 12, 2012 - 12:01 pmI do not know a great deal

I do not know a great deal about accounting, ran my own business though, seems to me If I was going to change something I would look at the money looseing aspects of the lottery and gaming business. I would certainly not disrupt the profitable side of the business. Why do I have a really uneasy feeling about the Liberal party?

June 12, 2012 - 11:11 amI'm also saying isn't that

I'm also saying isn't that great. The liberal government over the last 3 months has created such havoc in our industry and now they want our help to downsize ourselves. You (Mr. McGuinty ey al.) created the mess with your Black Monday announcement (March 12, 2012), why don't you come up with ideas to fix the chaos that you've created!

June 12, 2012 - 11:06 amJust another example of

Just another example of someone who doesn't realize the dimension of what is happening.All MPPs,especially Cabinet Ministers, should be required to take Agricultural Economics 101 at the University of Guelph.

June 12, 2012 - 10:52 amHow do we give input to this

Georg Leber SAID...

How do we give input to this panel?

There is no mystery why the Slots Program works and I have not seen anyone post the reason why. If you have ever been to a casino and especially if you are a real gambler you will know the answer.

Firstly, more people play slots than any other game in the casino. The number of staff to operate the slot machines is far less than the table games. Look at a blackjack table. There may be 3 people at the table and it still requires a dealer, pit bosses and admin staff to handle it. For the slots there can be hundreds of people playing and just a few staff.

Secondly and most important, the slots are the only form of gambling in the casino that is a guaranteed winner for the casino. On any given day the tables can lose money especially when you factor in the staffing.

So if you were building a model to make money from casinos, you would want as many of these small outlets so the population could get to them and play slots. Leave the racetrack programs as they are and add a number of small slots casinos in Toronto, not one big mega casino. That way you get to more people.

Why is this so hard for the politicians to grasp???? So again, how do we give input?

Georg Leber-ICR Racing

June 12, 2012 - 10:19 amIsn't that great. The panel

Norman Hall SAID...

Isn't that great. The panel has already made up its mind but still wants input. Looks like another waste of taxpayers money just to give the impression that the Liberals are "consulting" with the industry. What a farce.

June 12, 2012 - 10:09 amGood morning, It is time that

Good morning,

It is time that you start to reserve the big money to the Ontario breds, sire and dams registered in the ontario stud book.

Stop giving the money to support the foreign breeding farms.

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