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Perkins: "Elected Assassins" Killing Horse Racing

Published: February 15, 2013 7:13 pm ET

Last Comment: February 22, 2013 5:12 pm ET | 9 Comment(s) | Jump to Comments

"If you want to kill a sport once and for all, take a lesson from the Ontario Government. What our elected assassins have done to horse racing is the new template for sport execution."

Following mass layoffs by Woodbine Entertainment Group (WEG) this week, Toronto Star sports columnist Dave Perkins offered up his take on the Ontario Government's dealings with the horse racing industry in a Friday column, strongly criticizing former premier Dalton McGuinty and former finance minister Dwight Duncan for the decisions they made that have wreaked havoc within the sport and spin-off industries since.

"No one is saying there wasn’t some excess that could have been trimmed here and there, as it could in any industry, but the axings went way past that point," wrote Perkins of the 109 salaried positions and a significant number of hourly positions cut by Canada's largest racetrack operator. "Across Ontario, it continues the trend."

Perkins described McGuinty and Duncan as "two main players who loaded this gun" by ending the Slots-At-Racetracks program and criticized the politicians that have "already fled the crime scene" and "washed their hands" of the issue.

Perkins went on to question the new sustainability model for racing in regards to the deal reached near the end of January between WEG and the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs that will allow racing to continue for two more years.

"Woodbine and every other track went begging to the government for money to replace the slots revenue, which province-wide totalled $345 million per year (against the government’s no-risk share of $1.1 billion.) Knowing any possible revenues from a Toronto casino won’t be available for at least two years, the government gave Woodbine a secret amount of cash for 2013 and 2014, but not enough to keep operating at full speed, hence these staff and purse cuts," wrote Perkins. "Other tracks continue to negotiate their deals, while industry sentiments arise to throw the damned slots out into the parking lot snow. (Except that’s exactly what bingo owners want, to get their mitts on the slots themselves.)."

To read the Toronto Star article in its entirety, click here.

February 22, 2013 - 5:12 pm Check

Check out the MGM Toronto casino site attached.

It appears that Godfrey has been negotiating with MGM for sometime now.
Hmmm, do you think Godfrey had anything to do with bringing together Cadillac-Fairview and MGM?
What happened to the transparent privatization plan by the ONTARIO Lottery corporation?

With the owner of Georgian Downs now on board, the OLG has cut private deals with all of the racetrack owners.

We sat back and allowed this plan to materialize. We screamed and yelled when the government stifled horsemen voices by closing the government.
Well, the government is open now.....where are the horsemen voices????
Time to take a stand or crawl away. Your choice.

February 18, 2013 - 9:55 pmI like the rest of this

Dave Nicol SAID...

I like the rest of this industry have been trying to get the truth into the media on our behalf. After the so called 3 wise men interview on the agenda on TVO with Steve Paikin I have contacted them on 3 seperate occasions with the same reply. We*ll send your comments along to the producers and read our journalistic standards. I literally pleaded with them to play fair and let us give everyone the truth by a list of names I sent them, to no avail. They claim to be arms length from politics which I now dispute. Mr. Hudak was interviewed by Steve Paikin and during the interview Steve asked him about the privatization of his party*s plans to do away with 2 government agencies. Will we be next on the hit list asked Steve not once but twice. Does TVO receive public funds? If so no wonder they wouldn*t listen to my pleas for fair play!Thanks again Dave Perkins for continuing to spread the truth!

February 17, 2013 - 4:47 pmAs a long time standardbred

Dave Nicol SAID...

As a long time standardbred horseman you should all be aware that noone holds Dave Perkins in higher regard. He is one of the few mainstream Media writers who spells out the truth far better than I ever will. I attended the Hamilton City Hall meeting on Thursday and after some thought I make the following observations- The OLG seem to be changing their casino stance almost daily particularly with Hamilton council and officials. It seems all we have to be is a willing host for a casino at Flamboro Downs or some other location to be discussed in the year 2015 in the short term, we have a veto power, and we now have time for a referendum due to an election prior to the 2015 timeline. These are all policy shifts from earlier rulings by OLG in my opinion. For what it*s worth this is my personal opinion, The slots at racetracks program should have been left in place as a much needed source of income for all the participants with the understanding sometime in 2015 or later casinos were coming to Ontario and this program would be modified or scrapped giving our breeders and other industry workers time to change direction without the financial burden and extreme loss of our livelihoods! I am beginning to believe casinos are being used as a smoke screen for the bingo parlor slots! Value for money, I can name a lot of OLG officials that should be terminated as they sure wouldn*t be working for me! Wait a minute aren*t they paid out of taxpayer funds? Oh dear!

February 17, 2013 - 8:41 amTedw Great article Dave. It


Great article Dave. It should have made the front page(in the star), with your original heading(elective assassins). I wonder if Larry Tannenbaum was not involved if it would have at least made the front page of the sports section. We in this business know how disengenuous the Liberal government has been, and it has been so frustrating trying to get the truth out to the public. In many ways it reminds me of the frustration the medical researchers had attempting to educate the public about the dangers of smoking. The tobacco industry spent so much money on advertising, and so intimidated the media with the result that most of the public were ignorant of the link between smoking and lung cancer. Does Paul Godfrey, and his good friends, Mr. Rogers and Larry Tannenbaum have a similiar hold on our media to-day?

February 16, 2013 - 7:25 pmAnother excellent article by

Randy Young SAID...

Another excellent article by Dave Perkins .. it's unfortunate that more people (or the right people) don't seem to be listening.

February 16, 2013 - 6:14 pmThank you Dave Perkins for

Thank you Dave Perkins for being the only reporter from the mainstream newspapers to actually be printing the truth about the government attack on horse racing.

The Toronto Star – February 16, 2013.
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel both want a casino.

I thought it was interesting how Chicago suddenly is pushing for city casinos. I'm sure Casino Jack Godfrey's trade visit this summer to Chicago was just a coincidence. Why only conquer Toronto when you can conquer THE WORLD. Interesting paragraph near the end of the article regarding Godfrey's visit to Chicago accompanied by a MGM lobbyist.
What does Godfrey have to do to be in a conflict of interest as the Chairman of a crown corporation company?

NOW Magazine - September 24, 2012.

Casino Jack
Paul Godfrey still thinks he’s all that in this town
By Enzo Di Matteo
Paul Godfrey. Gotta love the, um, balls on the guy.
Who else would have the nerve to try and sell the good citizens of Toronto on a Las Vegas-style casino as a once in a lifetime opportunity, after the tens of millions he saddled taxpayers with on that SkyDome venture all those years ago?
Godfrey still loves playing God, it seems.
Seasoned business folk like him usually mellow with age, turn their attentions to cementing their legacy with feel-good projects. Not Godfrey. He’s out to make one more big deal.
Maybe hanging with all those fast-talking characters in the gambling, sorry gaming, biz in his role as Ontario Lottery and Gaming kingpin has messed with his sense of priorities (self?). He should probably be spending a little more time trying to get Post Media, his other fulltime gig, out of the red. But I digress.
If we’re to take anything from his breakfast speech in front of the city’s big biz elite at the Board of Trade Friday, September 21, it’s that Godfrey still thinks he’s all that in this town. That he can still bully Toronto council into bad decisions, like he did when he was Metro chair, just so his big buck friends can make a killing building Taj Mahals.
That “take it or leave” business where a Toronto casino is concerned sure sounded like a threat. Yes. If Toronto decides it doesn’t want a casino, well, there will be hell to pay, he warned. Not in those words, exactly.
But clearly Godfrey was trying to guilt-trip naysayers by suggesting the city would be missing out on a couple of billion dollars in investment and 12,000 “good-paying” jobs should our civic leaders decide to say no when the matter comes up for debate in a few weeks time. If that wasn’t enough, Godfrey imposed a deadline.
The day before his BoT speech, OLG issued an open letter to Toronto councillors making sure they know that OLG “has earned the highest level of certification from the World Lottery Association for our robust ad innovative Responsible Gambling Program.” Just in case, of course, a few among them are disturbed, as they should be, by the fact the bulk of revenue from gambling comes from problem gamblers.
Still, there were a few among the crowd at the BoT breakfast, eager to echo Godfrey’s sentiments for the cameras, in the event anyone was left with the wrong impression that this casino plan is all about making Godfrey’s friends richer.
Among the cheerleaders was an official from MGM, the Vegas outfit that’s been sniffing around town like a dog in heat ever since talk of a casino started. And a celebrity chef who suggested Toronto “needs” a casino. How’s that for turning up the heat?
Yup. If we don’t sign on the dotted line pronto, then there’s nothing to save our fair city from certain economic collapse.
But wait. It’s not a casino after all that Godfrey’s talking about. It’s an “entertainment complex” with shops and restaurants and other attractions fit for high rollers.
As if to ameliorate the oh-so-Victorian sensibilities of scaredy-cats among us, Godfrey made special effort to note that the casino, entertainment complex, den of iniquity, whatever you want to call it, would take up less than 10 per cent of any proposed development.
He offered the Marina Bay Sands in Singapore for comparative purposes. Well, that joint sits on a 20 hectare plot and boasts 500 tables and 1,600 slot machines, so…
No. Godfrey’s not going to ram this thing down Toronto’s throats. It’s a “once in a generation opportunity,” better than Christmas, because that only comes once a year. Well, then, why doesn’t Godfrey just offer it to the 33 other municipalities that have already told OLG they’d gladly take a casino?
Ah. There’s the rub. For all of Godfrey’s threats that he’d take his casino plans somewhere else if the Big Smoke doesn’t want it is, well, all smoke. The folks behind the scenes with the big bucks don’t want a casino anywhere else but Toronto.

On that nasty business the wheels have been turning behind the scenes for months. Yes, that was a high-priced lobbyist for MGM accompanying the mayor on his recent trade trip to Chicago.

But I must be among those in the media “still stuck in the mythologies of the Bugsy Siegel days,” as Godfrey put it, when it comes to gambling’s alleged connections to slippery business.
We must have all been imagining, then, the visit Sheldon Adelson, the money bags behind the Singapore Sands that Godfrey held up as a model for T.O., paid the mayor a few weeks back.
We should also all probably ignore the fact Adelson is currently being investigated by the U.S. Attorney General’s office for alleged money-laundering. After all, there’s big money to be made. Sir Paul says so.
• Sep 24, 2012 at 11:36 AM

February 16, 2013 - 2:53 pmAs usual Dave Perkins nailed

As usual Dave Perkins nailed it. The major players in this whole fiasco save for the OLG chair have fled the scene. A newly formed government will be reluctant to remedy the crime committed by their own and the OLG seems untouchable or accountable to anyone. Thanks McGuinty, Duncan and all those in their party who didn't do the honorable thing and at least try and put a stop to this hatchet job. Even preschoolers know the value of calling 911 or in this case grow a spine, stand-up and question the decision.

February 16, 2013 - 10:54 amThe winners will be Paul

The winners will be Paul Godfrey, the American casino operators who have Godfrey in their back pocket, and also Larry Tannenbaum and anyone else fortunate enough to own bingo parlors.
In addition to the racing industry and all of the people it employs, the taxpayers of Ontario will lose big time. The casino model is flawed. The new ones will simply cannabilize the existing ones. Other than Las Vegas, casinos are not the travel destinations that the OLG would have you believe. Atlantic City would be exhibit A. The Windsor Casino is operated by American interests and is pretty much revenue neutral to the Ontario taxpayers after the American operators take their cut back to the U.S.A. Any new casinos in Southern Ontario will simply cannibalize Niagara Falls and Rama - only their operators stand to profit from their existence and since these will be American companies it means more money exiting the country.
Isn't it ironic that the Toronto mayor nearly got kicked out of office over $3000 directed to his own charity while McGuinty, Duncan, Godfrey et al. are in the process are perpetrating the greatest fraud in Ontario history and seem untouchable in the process.

February 15, 2013 - 7:25 pmWe know who the losers are.

Rick Karper SAID...

We know who the losers are. Who, if anyone, will be the winners? The whole mess is a matter of stupidity on behalf of the government of Ontario. There should be more checks and balances on the power of our governments in order to avoid gaffes such as this.

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