Godfrey Wants Sportsbooks At Casinos

Published: November 1, 2012 03:29 pm EDT

One of the glimmers of hope Ontario horse racing took away from the OMAFRA Panel's report on the industry's transition from the slots-at-racetracks program earlier this week was the recommended option of the province introducing sports books/single-game sports wagering at racetracks. According to Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. Chairman Paul Godfrey, he has different thoughts on the matter.

In an interview on Wednesday, October 31 with Bob McCown, host of Sportsnet 590 The Fan's highly-respected drive-home show, Prime Time Sports, Godfrey discussed the topic of single-game sports wagering and sportsbooks.

If nothing at all, Godfrey's declaration on the topic sure was timely, seeing as though both Major League Baseball and the Toronto Blue Jays themselves have spoken out against the implementation of single-game sports wagering in the past week. Additionally, the OMAFRA Panel's highly-anticipated transition report gave a recommended option for the Ontario Government to allow provincial racetracks to be home to sportsbooks.

When McCown asked Godfrey about how single-game sports wagering would be presented in the province if it is passed by the Ontario Government, he wasn't specific, but one thing appeared certain if the decision were up to him: racetracks will not be in the loop, especially right off the bat.

"We haven't really finalized it because we have been down this road before, only to find out that politicians have changed their minds," Godfrey said in regard to how the wagering and sportsbooks would be introduced/presented in the province. "But I would guess that we would, especially at the beginning, leave it to wherever we have an established casino in the province, for instance at Fallsview, or Casino Niagara or Windsor or Rama… that would be my guess where it would start.

"We have not talked about this at the OLG Board yet. We have not discussed this with the province, and it would be my job to discuss this with Queen's Park to find out what their wishes are, but that would probably be a suggestion that I would make."

When asked if Ontario sportsbooks would resemble Las Vegas sportsbooks if it were ultimately up to the OLG, Godfrey said, "that is correct," adding, "In the beginning, I believe that would be the most logical way of handling it, and we [would] see how it goes from there."

Moving the discussion of sportsbooks beyond the physical realm and into online offerings, Godfrey stated that even though the OLG is working on its online system, and even though single-sports wagering is expected to become a reality both federally and in Ontario, the OLG has not yet worked in the needed infrastructure to support the attractive wager into its online system.

"Right now we are building our internet system, at the present time," Godfrey stated. "It should be up and running probably mid-next year (2013). Right now we have not contemplated sports betting on there because it is not legal yet, but once it is considered we will definitely entertain it."

Later in the interview, Godfrey added, "I thought it would've been approved by now, but I have stopped guessing what politicians will do."



As per Godfrey, "but one thing appeared certain if the decision were up to him: racetracks will not be in the loop, especially right off the bat." Too bad there wasn't a way to keep the OLG and Godfrey out of the "loop"!

As Peggy has mentioned, there is no where to give kudos to Brian Tropea and OHHA so I too feel inclined to post it here. My family and I would like to thank you for having our backs and for sharing the views of the majority of the industry. We would also like to commend you on keeping everything on the up & up and opening your organization to everyone without prejudice and regardless of their backgrounds and affiliations.

As there was no place to comment on the post about OHHA's reply to the Omafra report I just wanted to say GOOD FOR YOU BRIAN. You put it exactly the way it is . In my opinion a horse is a horse . Whether they are a hunter jumper, a quarter horse, a standardbred or a thoroughbred they still have four legs & a tail. They are all flesh & blood. They all have a purpose and to the thousands of standardbred owners, trainers, drivers, grooms and fans I would like to say how sorry I am for all of us. I have had a sick feeling in my stomach for 7 months now & I think it is about time to hurl. I love my horses and I don't want to see any harm come to mine or yours.

Godfrey's arrogance and contempt for the racing industry may be on shaky ground. Soon he will no longer have the protection of Duncan and McGuinty. The Star has reported that many of the Toronto Liberal MPP's are expressing reservations about a Toronto casino(I guess the prospect of imminent annihilation will do that). Godfrey is not going to get any support for anything which will further alienate any section of the voting public. The transitional report is flawed in many ways, but it does give the industry a chance at survival. Godfrey would be well- advised not to throw any roadblocks into the restructuring process. He really hasn't done the politicians any favours and can easily be replaced.
By the way ,the money the OLG spent on that two page ad in today's Star touting casinos would have bought a lot of supplies for a lot of classrooms. But this is the OLG, isn't it?

My guess is the bingo halls get the sports book!!!

Would seem to line up with the "Godfrey" way of doing things.

Godfrey sticks another knife in!!!!!! Obviously the OLG and Liberals will decide which recommendations from the OMAFRA panel they like.
In a 2 page adv. in the front section of the Toronto Star today the OLG talks of their modernization plan and nowhere is Horse Racing mentioned in the plan!
So everyone now is the time for OHRIA to start asking questions in a hurry.