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Lawson: Woodbine Should Play A Role In Sports Wagering

Published: January 7, 2019 10:00 am ET

Last Comment: January 14, 2019 5:02 pm ET | 3 Comment(s) | Jump to Comments

Woodbine Entertainment CEO Jim Lawson recently took some time to discuss all things Woodbine, including how Canada’s racing leader could, and should, hit the ground running in regard to legalized sports wagering.

Lawson’s wide-ranging one-on-one has come via a piece by the Paulick Report. In it, Lawson tackles topics like the company’s live Standardbred racing moving to Woodbine Mohawk Park permanently, the possibility of a GO Transit station being built very close to Woodbine Racetrack, and how Woodbine Entertainment is a logical choice to play a role in legalized sports wagering.

In an excerpt from the one-on-one, which appears below, Lawson explains how Woodbine Entertainment is, essentially, already structured to offer single-game sports wagering.

Sports betting is a big challenge. It's inevitable that it's coming to Ontario. We feel that Woodbine can play a fundamental role with single game sports betting, given our structure, our backbone of infrastructure. We can run single game sports betting off our tote system, our infrastructure, our HPI (online wagering) system and our customers. We can run that next week, which reduces a lot of risk for anyone coming into sports betting in this province. We need to make a lot of noise to have the regulators and the politicians embrace the fact that horse racing can and should play a role with its infrastructure in sports betting.

I'm not talking about doing it for Woodbine, I'm talking about doing it to support the entire industry and all the people employed in it. We're happy to do that. We're effectively a non-profit corporation. We're for-profit for tax purposes but we don't have any shareholders.

Sports betting is going to be a big challenge going forward for us and we want to make sure that we have a role in it. The competition we all face in the industry, the reduced horse supply and the demographics of our ownership are big challenges. We certainly have them all here in spades right now. Looking down the horizon, we see sports betting coming and we've got to position ourselves to play a meaningful role.

(With files from the Paulick Report)

January 14, 2019 - 5:02 pmHorse racing should

Horse racing should concentrate on horse racing! Easy slot money stifled innovation in the racing industry.

January 12, 2019 - 3:35 amRon, what is the problem if

Will Yamakva SAID...

Ron, what is the problem if casino operators do take the lead on sports betting? Why does everyone assume if a bet is made, horse racing should see a part of that wager?

The best idea many of these cities/racetracks should do, is make a giant sports bar. Similar to that of "real sports" franchise, like they have in Toronto and had in Ottawa. You take the sports bar feel, and you have a section (albeit smaller) as a teletheater. When the big races are on, you take over the main screens and show the races.

The idea of getting money just because a bet was made, is a horse racing piece of mentality. You have to earn it harness people. This means finding a way to partner up, and simply showing the game, ain't enough. That does not deserve a cut of the wager. You really need to bring it to the people to earn that cut.

Horse racing needs to earn the right to get part of any sports betting, and so far, it really has not done that, not in Canada and not in the U.S. Simply allowing sports betting at the track, isn't enough.

January 9, 2019 - 8:34 amWhat has taken so long?

ron francis SAID...

What has taken so long? Single event sports betting is inevitable. I was in Atlantic City in November. A sports book employee at Resorts told me NJ did $84M in October, the first full month of operation. That was 10-15% more than anticipated. Lets see what province is first to the post. And, although racetracks would be the perfect location(s), you can be sure the casino operators will have alternative plans.

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