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John Snobelen On OMAFRA Report

Published: November 3, 2012 10:57 am ET

Last Comment: November 7, 2012 8:23 am ET | 14 Comment(s) | Jump to Comments

"We think the basis of it, which is tying the amount of purses and therefore the available number of race days to the amount of handle available - to actually the participation of the horseplayers and fans of horse racing - is a critical issue on a go-forward basis."

On today's episode of Trot Radio, John Snobelen goes one-on-one with Norm Borg to discuss the OMAFRA Report bombshell that came out on Tuesday. Snobelen wanted the industry to understand that the report that came out is not a concrete plan, set in stone but a set of recommendations that can be tweaked and modified by the industry and government.

"The government, I think, believed that when they withdrew the SARP program the [horse racing] industry would condense but not collapse. We came to a different conclusion than that and made some recommendations to them on what a new industry might look like both in terms of sustainable size and what kind of public funding would be required."

Based on that premise, the panel predicated the model on handle generated within each of the divisions per breed.

"Here's what it's predicated on. We took the gross amount of money that was available from pari-mutuel handle, we took our best guess at where that handle was generated - whether it was thoroughbred or standardbred at the various levels - and then applied that to purses and made race dates out of that."

Snobelen agrees that the model is not perfect, including on the extremely contentious issue of standardbred race dates proposed.

"I don't think the number of race days that we proposed are exactly right in terms of the split between standardbred and thoroughbred A, B and C or even the split between thoroughbred A and standardbred A. I think that's subject to a finer look at the numbers."

That look at the numbers wasn't as easy as those on the Panel expected. The reason being the data collected by the government on the equine industry was, in Snobelen's opinion, sorely lacking.

"There wasn't very much - in fact, no government terra firma, no government foundation in terms of recording and understanding the impact of the overall horse industry in Ontario. It's a huge industry but it's been ignored, largely, by governments for many, many, many years. We have an expert department keeping track of sheep at OMAFRA but no one is assigned horses. So the baseline data was a mess."

Another area that Snobelen found research was insufficient was in the marketing of horse wagering products. To that, the Panel set aside $10 million per year for marketing in this avenue in order to retain and attract new customers. Snobelen also indicated that the CPMA "is more open now than they would have been a year or so ago" to discussing and implementing new wagering products that have up until this point been stalled or thwarted.

To hear the full interview with Snobelen and Borg, click the play button below.

Episode 277 – OMAFRA Panel Member John Snobelen
Audio Format: MP3 audio
Host: Norm Borg

November 7, 2012 - 8:23 amI agree with Darryl

I agree with Darryl MacArthur, no concrete word from the PC party concerning agriculture or the SARP. I would have to give a little bit of thought before I cast my vote for a party that cannot come out with a concrete plan for the horse racing industry. Sad to say, we do not need a repeat of the acts of the Liberal Party of Ontario and the right honourable Ted McMeekin. Many great ideas come from these comments from the horse people. Perhaps it is too easy to critize. However, to just cast aside one of the great money makers for the Provincial Government, is unforgiveable. Again, just thinking out loud. Bruce T. Winning

November 5, 2012 - 5:22 pmDarryl Newbigging said.. "

Will Yamakva SAID...

Darryl Newbigging said..

" Any decrease in purse pool or even dates will make it virtually impossible to make money racing. Along with their further ideas of bingos and tables etc. will further cannibalize the amount of money which may have been pointed to wagering on a horse race. NO FUTURE in this business."

How correct is this? Thing is, this is not about the government giving gamblers another option. They are already out there. And unlike standardbred racing, those other areas, have done things to try to lure gamblers. Standardbred racing people like yourself, and many of the other 50,000 horseman, have been getting good money.... FROM ANOTHER FORM OF GAMBLING. You have been profitting off money that could have went back to the bettors of those slots.

You are talking about decrease in the pools. Do something. Look at any of the topics in the recently discussed. Do you see many people talking about bringing new fans to the track? nope. You see people cheering for those to come back... not to watch your product, but to push a button in a room TOTALLY devoid of watching your product. Where is the rally to bring fans to the game? Where is the cry to pack the stands? Not here.

What racing needs, is a person like Jack Darling, or another very successful horseman to post here, and realize, this is a done deal, and until people come watching your sport, the pools will NEVER increase.

November 4, 2012 - 10:54 pmRegarding the PC party and

Regarding the PC party and their views on this issue...I have been a member of the Ontario PC party for 6 or 7 years and receive regular emails from the party president regarding issues in Ontario. There have been a steady stream of these emails since the summer, perhaps six to ten a month...anyone else here who is a member would be familiar with this. I am sad to say that not once has the horse racing issue been mentioned...not once. I have sent several emails to my local MPP Sylvia Jones and have not received one response outside of a "We have received your email...". I had hoped that this would be a major issue for them yet sadly it is not. Politicians are just that and our issue is fraught with "perception issues" that take a long time to explain, we just don't fit well into a 30 second sound bite or radio ad. We need to be the ones to change this momentum because the politicians are preoccupied with saying whatever to whomever is's not personal it's just politics.

November 3, 2012 - 4:54 pmLet me get this right. 1. No

Chuck Ibey SAID...

Let me get this right. 1. No data work from. 2. OHRIA says its not their plan. Wow is this all for real? I will say again that we need to involve Racing Future, Bob Burgess, Senator Runciman, Dennis Mills and any MPPs from any party that seriously want to preserve racing for all breeds! Last night OLG had a piece on the news showing where the OLG money is spent. It is time for us to show on TV how much racing has contributed. The Liberals and runaway Godfrey are going to war on us so let's quit talking on here and get the above people involved and let's get going or kiss us all goodbye!

November 3, 2012 - 3:52 pmThe critical issue overlooked

chris bush SAID...

The critical issue overlooked by the 'expert' panel is how any industry can possibly survive against a government entity that gets to make/change policy beneficial to itself (with unlimited resources at its disposal) without regard to the devastating affects to its private sector counterparts. That's why SARP was an important mechanism to keep the playing field equitable. With no alternate means of diversifying revenue streams against this inherently unjust scenario, the whole report becomes a useless incompetent exercise.

November 3, 2012 - 3:32 pmYou ask about Hudak. Perhaps

Tom Gibson SAID...

You ask about Hudak. Perhaps Anthony MacDonald can answer that question. Isn't he running for the PC party? The PC party and the NDP will not save the slot program,period. Time to come up with alternatives or there will be a line up to serve Tim's coffee.

November 3, 2012 - 3:20 pmI have not thoroughly

I have not thoroughly digested the racing report but from what I am getting from it they are saying tracks like Clinton, Woodstock etc. would have total purse for the day of around $30,000. Figuring a program of 10 races, even though they usually have around 12 races, that is about $3,000 per race. That would be O.K. if all of the races were for 4 or 6 claimers. But when you give the higher purse for higher class horses that will lower the purse for the cheap claimers considerably. You cannot make money with a 6 claimer now when you have to pay training and vet bills. Owners who pay trainers will have to ship these horses or sell them to a trainer to race himself. When all of these horses are sold what will be left to race at these tracks? They will have a very hard time to fill a program. Besides who is going to want to race a 4 or 6 claimer for what, maybe $1,200 purse. This is what happens when you get a bunch of people trying to set up a program for a business they know nothing about. I certainly am not one of the people who are going to thank them for their time. Woodbine will survive but even they will suffer when people get out of the business. Any decrease in purse pool or even dates will make it virtually impossible to make money racing. Along with their further ideas of bingos and tables etc. will further cannibalize the amount of money which may have been pointed to wagering on a horse race. NO FUTURE in this business.

November 3, 2012 - 1:45 pmGreat opening question Norm,

Jack Darling SAID...

Great opening question Norm, That was fantastic-Good for you! Mr Snobelen's answer speaks volumes as to what we are up against. Mr Snobelen sounds like a very reasonable man and we have to continue to make our case to him, his panel and the govt that they report to.

November 3, 2012 - 1:22 pmI just have a few

Mona Hill SAID...

I just have a few questions:

Just how did this committee GUESS at 'where that handle was generated'?

How does this panel justify restructuring a multi million dollar industry by GUESSING?

If GUESSING is the formula used by this committee to save horse racing in Ontario, then there really should be more Standardbred Representatives guessing on this panel. Otherwise this new formula isn't going to work.

November 3, 2012 - 1:07 pmMr. Snobelen reports that the

Georg Leber SAID...

Mr. Snobelen reports that the government data is sorely lacking (yet they keep track of sheep). That begs the question, Why produce a report to scare the heck out of our industry based on flawed data? From what I read in the report, there was no mention of the government data being so inept-not even in a polite way.

More importantly, now what? The Liberals now have certain figures in their heads and they will hold onto that like a dog on a juicy bone. Those numbers are now the starting point for negotiation. Maybe they should have thrown us a bone. Based on the fact that the timeline for race dates is Dec 1, there is no way this deadline will be met.

Norm Borg failed to ask specifically about the HIP. It was a chance to ask why it is reduced from 47.5 million to 30 million.

By the way, has anyone seen Tim Hudak? He is the ghost of horseracing past. Speak in favour or against but speak. The report and the cancelling of SARP was based on really bad data as admitted by the panel. If Hudak wanted any better of a set up he couldnt have scripted it himself. I fear though that he will continue to abandon us.

Georg Leber-ICR Racing

November 3, 2012 - 12:48 pmI see that George L. Brinkman

Lynne Magee SAID...

I see that George L. Brinkman (Dept. of Economics and Agricultural Business at the University of Guelph) was consulted on this panels' interim report dated August 17, 2012. Mr. Brinkman had done extensive work on the Ontario Horse Racing Industry and it's impact on the province. His report, dated October 2004 and titled "Contribution of the Horseman Component of the Harness Horse Industry to the Ontario Economy" is extremely informative. Perhaps more attention should have been paid to this very intelligent man and money spent having him update his report to current times.
I concur with Bobbi regarding the needless rush to end the SARP based on a whim from the McGuinty government just as he has destroyed so many other segments of our society with similarly uninformed decisions.

November 3, 2012 - 12:33 pm"Data collected by the gov't

"Data collected by the gov't on the equine industry was sorely lacking".... this is what the panel based their business model on??? Try going to a bank with this kind of information and see what they tell you. Yet this gov't will scrap a program which makes them a billion dollars a year in profit, based on incomplete data??? I submit that this is a truly classic example of this Liberal gov't's total incompetence. McGuinty and Duncan couldn't run a "popcorn stand" and make money.

November 3, 2012 - 11:53 amYou took the words right out

You took the words right out of my mouth Bobbi Morley!! Maintain the SARP and if you come up with a "new way" to stabilize the industry, great. If not, it's black and white.

November 3, 2012 - 11:13 amMr. Snobelen, and associates,

Bobbi Morley SAID...

Mr. Snobelen, and associates, if the information was that lacking, would it not have been a good idea to tell the Liberals that they should maintain the SARP for a further three years while data was collected and a new plan formed, instead of just rushing to put together a plan that could turn out to be way off the mark? With a three year deadline to accomplish that, all the pertinent information could have been gathered calmly and factually, and an appropriate, mutually beneficial program put in place. We could have avoided the death of horses, the angst felt by so many people, job losses, business closures and a myriad of associated fallout. It once more hi-lites the total lack of planning by the Liberal government.

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