During a recent interview, Ontario Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak has stated that he is for racetrack gaming expansion instead of new casinos, and that he supports a revenue sharing arrangement. However, the opposition leader stopped short of commiting to what a Conservative Government would do if his party were to win an election in the near future.
During the sit-down discussion with the Ottawa Sun this past Friday, interviewers tried to get Hudak to go on the record in regard to whether or not his provincial government would introduce a revenue-sharing agreement with Ontario horse-racing if they ultimately take the province's reins.
The segment of the interview in which Hudak discusses gaming runs roughly 11 minutes in length.
Hudak says numerous times during the interview that his preference for gaming expansion would be for that expansion to happen at existing racetrack sites, with table games added. He also calls for a referendum to take place in any municipality looking for a new gaming facility.
At one point, Hudak states that Ontario should be supporting jobs right now, not slashing them (Ontario horse racing employs upwards of 60,000 Ontarians). Given the nature of the discussion, many in Ontario horse racing would construe that as PC support, going forward, for the tens of thousands of horsemen that have found themselves in limbo since early this year.
By the end of the interview, Hudak is pressed on horse-racing's million-dollar question: Would the Hudak PC Government install a revenue-sharing agreement with Ontario horse racing if it came into power in the Province of Ontario?
By the end of the interview, Hudak does say the following (starting at the 10:25 mark of the interview):
"It seems to me that if you have a site (existing gaming location) that is at a racetrack, there should be some sort of sharing agreement, because you get economic spinoffs, you support the local industry, and you are actually using their site. That seems to be sensible and fair."
While Hudak was careful to point out that his government, if elected, would evaluate the current state of gambling at the time before making any decisions, he did have the following comment about the slots-at-racetracks program: "I think that was a program that actually worked. In fact, it was emulated in other jurisdictions."
At the conclusion of the interview, Hudak states that he believes the Gaming Modernization plan is a distraction, stating the following: "If the election were tomorrow, full stop on this (OLG gambling modernization) initiative. I think it's wrong."
To view the Ottawa Sun interview in its entirety, click here.