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Consultation Held At Hiawatha

Published: November 9, 2016 9:10 pm ET

Last Comment: November 10, 2016 9:04 am ET | 1 Comment(s) | Jump to Comments

Ontario Racing (OR) hosted its third scheduled in-person consultation on Wednesday, Nov. 9 at Hiawatha Horse Park regarding a proposed long-term funding framework for horse racing in the province.

Approximately 40 people attended the session at Hiawatha.

Ontario Racing Executive Director Rob Cook introduced Dr. Ted Clarke, General Manager at Grand River Raceway, who was asked to discuss the background and history of the proposed Racetrack Alliance to be administered by Woodbine Entertainment Group and the economic benefits of the Alliance working together for a better customer-focused product.

Questions emerged from the audience about the Alliance regarding governance and it was requested that a democratic process be put into play to elect the new board to include representation of smaller racetracks. One attendee noted that there is no representation west of London and stressed representation is needed to get buy-in and become engaged with what is going on, including better communication.

Cook agreed that these concerns still need to be discussed, noting that the government will want to have equal representation on the board and this will be addressed going forward.

As conversation turned to the principle of longer-term, predictable funding for the industry, Cook said that the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. will be looking to focus on other revenue streams in the future.

In responding to comments about purse increases to support struggling horse people and the future of smaller regional tracks, Cook noted these are huge concerns that have been mentioned throughout the consultation process and will continue to be discussed.

Feedback from the audience included discussion on the need for sustainability with one attendee stating that the funding is not enough without the reduction of the industry while another noted that the industry needs to generate more money. Another person commented that the process must be democratic and transparent, which is one of the key principles in the proposed framework.

Widespread in-person consultations with the industry will continue across Ontario. The next session is scheduled for Sunday, Nov. 13 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at The Raceway at the Western Fair District in London, Ont.

This framework, subject to government approval, will be presented to the industry for feedback. If approved, this framework will provide the industry as a whole – from owners, trainers and breeders to racetrack operators – with the certainty they need to make investments in their businesses.

OR’s primary objective, to this point, has been to engage directly with the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. and the government to provide input to the development of a road map to sustainable funding for the industry. Now, OR’s focus will shift towards engagement with the industry as a whole to garner feedback on this proposed framework.

This proposed framework is based on key principles including:

  • A new racetrack alliance: all Ontario racetracks that conduct live racing will be invited to create a new alliance. It is proposed that Woodbine Entertainment Group (WEG) will serve as the administrator of this new alliance.

  • Longer-term, predictable funding: Ontario’s horse racing industry can invest in their businesses beyond 2021.

  • Ongoing accountability and transparency: decision-making based on evidence and agreed upon success indicators.

  • Industry leadership: racetrack business plans, race dates, purse levels will be aligned across racetracks for a coordinated approach. Ontario Racing will play a key industry leadership role in the future.

Widespread ‘in person’ conversations with the industry about these principles will continue across Ontario. Sessions will take place in every region of the province that has horse racing. The following consultation schedule has been updated. (dates subject to change)

  • Sunday, November 13 - 2:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. - London (Western Fair Raceway)

  • Wednesday, November 16 - 5:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m. - Ottawa (Rideau Carleton Raceway)

  • Saturday, November 19 - 1:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m. - Port Perry (Golfer's Dream Golf Club, Scugog)

  • Tuesday, November 22 - 2:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. - Milton (Gambrel Barn, Country Heritage Park)

Ontario Racing encourages all interested parties to submit their feedback about the future of the industry by accessing its online consultation portal here. The portal includes a series of questions and the option to attach a word document, for those who would like to share additional thoughts. The proposed long-term funding framework was outlined in a webinar, hosted on October 19, and can be viewed here.

Ontario Racing will collate feedback from the industry, and this perspective will inform recommendations to government.

(With files from Ontario Racing)

November 10, 2016 - 9:04 amBreeders, owners, trainers

John Hayes SAID...

Breeders, owners, trainers and racing facility officials...let's not forget that ultimate increases in purse accounts will be driven by increases in betting handle. Our current platform for betting will be fortunate to maintain small increases in handle on an annual basis going forward. Hopefully we will have some creative thinking and action from all of our stakeholders in the near future.

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