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COSA, OR Show Support For London

Published: December 28, 2018 1:24 pm ET

Last Comment: December 31, 2018 1:02 pm ET | 4 Comment(s) | Jump to Comments

This holiday season has been a reflective one for Southwestern Ontario horse people who were informed just days before Christmas that the future of Standardbred racing at The Raceway at Western Fair District is in jeopardy due to Gateway Casinos’ decision to relocate. The company has decided to shift their operation from Western Fair, therefore taking the funding that helps support local racing.

“We were very disappointed with Gateway’s decision and the effect it will have on racing in the London area,” said Bill O’Donnell, a hall of fame horseman in Canada and the US and now the president of the Central Ontario Standardbred Association which represents horse people in Ontario.

“Initially the entire reason to have the casinos located at the province’s racetracks was to mutually benefit both the slot and racetrack operators. That has now fallen by the wayside with the sale of the casinos from the Ontario government (Ontario Lottery and Gaming), to private operators.

“We’re very concerned about the future of racing in the London region which has been a hotbed for harness racing for many decades. The Raceway at Western Fair is an integral cog in the wheel of horse racing here and with more than 100 race dates per year it provides a livelihood for thousands of people in the region. The Raceway’s daily handle (amount wagered) is second only to the Woodbine Entertainment tracks which illustrates the success of their operation.”

Gateway and Western Fair negotiated for many months in an attempt to have the casino remain at its current location and for the integration of gaming and racing to continue as successfully as it has for 20 years.

“Western Fair has submitted a formal request to the government indicating the support required to continue racing at Western Fair. We solidly support this request and are optimistic it will be honoured given the Ford government’s very vocal support of the restoration of the slots at racetrack program and horse racing. They’ve already set a precedent since they took over control of the provincial government and hopefully that will continue at Western Fair,” O’Donnell said.

Additionally, John Hayes, Chair of Ontario Racing which oversees harness racing in the province, issued this statement on Dec. 27:

“The Raceway at Western Fair, considering its sizeable investment and long standing charitable endeavours in the greater London area, has been a solid citizen and integral piece of the fabric of the community for decades.

“It is most disappointing to hear that a satisfactory arrangement with its current tenant regarding future operations could not be reached. With a broad offering that extends beyond horse racing, The Raceway, its employees, the horse people and community at large face a very uncertain future. Ontario Racing is committed to providing whatever support it can to help maintain racing in the London area.”

(COSA)

December 31, 2018 - 1:02 pmI would like to give my

Tom rankin SAID...

I would like to give my thoughts on situation at Western Fair. First and foremost, in two of the larger urban centres in the province ie Toronto and Hamilton, both municipal councils have said all gaming should be at racetracks. Likewise in Ottawa where expansion is to take place at Rideau Carleton. Windsor already has a major casino, leaving only London where gaming could exist beyond the racetrack if this new site is approved. These are precedents why this should be considered bad public policy. Gateway Casinos must feel they have a good chance to get city council approval for the new site unless this is just a negotiation ploy, because failure to do so will definitely hurt their position in future talks. Horsepeople should urge council to turn down the new site. If my firm were involved in something like this I would meet with city planners and engineers, hire my own planner, meet with the Mayor and all members of council individually. And I would know the outcome before the vote. I would recommend a similar course of action to my fellow horsepeople.

December 31, 2018 - 10:15 amThe rule is no longer in

Will Yamakva SAID...

The rule is no longer in affect because it was a deal of a specific length. After that, the OLG no longer had to abide by that stipulation.

The city/Western Fair shoulders part of the blame. The demands they made to a business was not worth it for the business, and now the business moved on. It was not like Gateway did not try to get the deal done, they sat at the table for more than 10 months.

December 31, 2018 - 9:20 amThe caption says:

chris cain SAID...

The caption says: STANDARDBRED CANADA requests SUPPORT for LONDON (WFR)

Just out of curiosity, how do we show this SUPPORT?

December 29, 2018 - 1:43 pmTHE REAL SAD THING IS THAT

BILL BOJESKI SAID...

THE REAL SAD THING IS THAT RACE TRACK OWNERS ALLOWED THE OLG TO DO WHAT THEY WANTED. IF IAM CORRECT WHEN THE SLOTS WERE FIRST INTRODUCTED, THE RULE WAS THEY MUST OPERATE AT A RACE TRACK THAT HAD A CURRANT MEET AND THE PROFITS WERE TO BE SPLIT BETWEEN HORSEMAN, TRACK OWNER, HOST CITY AND OLG. WHEN THE SOLTS AT RACE TRACKS PROGRAM ENDED THE SAME THING SHOULD OF HAPPENED NO PROGRAM NO SLOTS, POWER WILL BE SHUT OFF AT MIDNIGHT WHEN PROGRAM ENDS. KNOW THERE SEEMS THIS RULE IS NO LONGER IN EFFECT BECAUSE THE OLG IS ABLE TO DO WHAT EVER THEY WANT. YOU SAW WHAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN AT DRESDEN.WE ALSO SAW WHAT HAPPENED AT WINDSOR IT CLOSED. IT IS AMAZING THAT HIAWATHA, FORT ERIE AND NOW LONDON ARE IN TROUBLE. WHO DO WE BLAME.


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