The tentative bailout plan to save racetrack operator Attractions Hippiques now appears to be on shaky ground
Quebec's Liberal government and Attractions Hippiques owner Paul Massicotte -- a Liberal-appointed senator -- have taken a lot of heat over the proposed financial terms in the last 48 hours, and a Quebec TV network reported the Charest government has decided to "pull the plug" on the deal because it isn't supported by horsemen and breeders.
Massicotte himself said he fears the tide is turning. He also said "I'm not confident" referring to whether the agreement will be concluded.
In an interview outside Montreal Superior Court, where he testified today on behalf of his company's request for another 60-day extension of the creditor protection initiated last June, Massicotte said politicians are sensitive to negative perceptions from the public about a deal. "It's unpopular. It takes political courage to support it," he said.
A finance department official told the court this week the government is prepared to provide tax refunds and additional VLT revenue totalling $28 million a year for 25 years to help the company continue to provide live horseracing and $12 million a year in purses at the tracks in Trois-Rivières, Quebec City and Aylmer.
But Attractions Hippiques would have to cease any legal proceedings against the government or its corporations, and Hippodrome de Montréal would need to close.
Massicotte said he's been portrayed publicly as the personal beneficiary of the deal when in fact the company will be receiving the revenue and using it to continue operating three racetracks and sustaining the thousands of jobs in the Quebec racing industry.
(A Trot Insider exclusive by Paul Delean)