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Eaves: Value For Money In Racing

nick-eaves-obriens.jpg

Published: February 22, 2012 8:51 am ET

Last Comment: February 24, 2012 11:44 am ET | 4 Comment(s) | Jump to Comments

While Don Drummond's austerity report to the provincial government focused on "value for money" and possible changes to Ontario's horse racing industry, the CEO of the country's largest racetrack operator says the numbers show the real value is not at resort casinos: it's at the track.

In Wednesday's Globe And Mail Eaves presents numbers that position the slots-at-racetracks partnership as a clear winner for the province. According to Eaves, the $1.5 billion gleaned by the government from Woodbine and Mohawk comes after "significant" investment - with no government funds - to create the slot parlours.

On the other hand, the government finances 100 per cent of the costs of its resort casinos (an estimated $3-billion to build). Those casinos show a $45-million loss in the last available annual report in 2009-10.

Eaves continued to say that WEG's tracks alone deliver more revenue to the government than the province's resort casinos.

The Globe And Mail also interviewed OHRIA's Sue Leslie, who provided the historical facts to the province's partnership with racing - facts that many have chosen to overlook or ignore: when the government was looking to boost revenues through in the 1990s, racetracks were chosen as the right location and a partnership arrangement was reached.

“The province basically asked us to let competition come into our existing racetracks with our existing customers that had been built up over a long time,” Leslie told the Globe, reinforcing how 60,000 people are employed within the industry and how the economic spin-offs involve hay, straw, saddleries, accountants, equipment, all the way down to mom-and-pop restaurant owners and gas station operators.

February 24, 2012 - 11:44 amWould like to communicate

Would like to communicate about my meeting with Frank Klees MPP of Aurora/Newmarket Friday Feb 24, 2012.
Based on our meeting he asked me to forward an email on behalf of myself and the Industry Stakeholders.
The contents of the email are as follows:

Frank,

It was a pleasure to meet with you this morning to discuss the Horse Racing Industry.
I was pleased to find out that yourself and Tim Hudak were at the table in 1995
working on the Legislation that was enacted in 1998.
As per our conversation we agreed with respect to the legislation.

Currently there is a lot of angst in the Horse Racing Industry, this has resulted
in significant withdrawal in investment by stakeholders.
The stakeholders perceive a higher element of risk in our industry.
For example, there have been cancellations in breeding of broodmares since the release
of "The Drummond Report".

As per our conversation, please forward this email to Tim Hudak the PC Leader of your Caucus.
I would like you to ask him on behalf of myself and other Stakeholders in our industry to provide
"Clarity" and "Context" on this Issue. The sooner we know the PC's position the better for the
people in our industry.

I write to you as a:

Breeder/Owner
Past "Member at Large" HIP Program 2007 - 2009
Entrepreneur and Past Executive of Fortune 100 Companies.

Regards,

Chris Alexander

February 22, 2012 - 11:19 amFebruary 20, 2012 To Whom It

February 20, 2012

To Whom It May Concern:

My name is Keith Cassell. I am a 2nd generation family member involved in the horse racing industry in Ontario.
My mother, father, my wife Joan and 4 sons (including 16 grandchildren) have all raced standardbreds at various tracks in Ontario.
Aside from the numbers and information provided by O.H.R.I.A., together with my sons, I want to emphasize the peripheral businesses that become immediately affected...from farriers to veterinarians, from farm supply businesses to feed stores, the affected numbers are astronomical… for we are part of a larger industry… the service industry!!
We support the position of all O.H.R.I.A members in opposing the proposed amendments which would affect the allocation of the revenue from the slots at Ontario Race Tracks.
The horse racing industry would be irreversibly damaged if such a proposal was enacted.
We are writing this letter as people who have been involved in the horse racing industry for the past 55 years. I am an owner, but I have also participated in all aspects of the horse racing industry, as have my sons, in a very substantial manner. This has now become a vocation for members of the family. We have a large investment in our horses and equipment. In addition, we have purchased a significant amount of farmland which is only warranted by the revenue produced from the horse racing proceeds. Our horses are kept on these farms and within their structures.
My family and I own between 50 and 70 horses which provide employment for support staff, local merchants, laborers as well as part or full time employment for my children and grandchildren.
This income produces substantial tax revenue to various levels of government... property taxes, sales taxes, and income taxes.
We are aware of the O.H.R.I.A presentation and I fully recommend their adoption... to consider such a draconian alteration … which would affect one of the few industries still vibrant in Ontario... the change would not only be contrary to the general interests of all of Ontario, but a further blow to the cherished rural values and contributions which the farming and agriculture industries make to the non-urban areas of the province.
As I said before, if the O.H.R.I.A recommendations and steps are not taken, the damage will be irreversible.

Yours Truly,

Keith Cassell

February 22, 2012 - 10:49 amNick Eaves' statement

Nick Eaves' statement outlining the compelling economic advantages to the Ontario
Treasury of our slot partnership with Government is very important and TIMELY.

In resisting the Drummond Report as it applies to the racing industry we should all continue to be united and speak with one voice so as to maintain the status quo with NO NEGOTIATION and NO CHANGES of any kind. We must stand firm.

Therefore,in my view in order to be effective it is essential that all horsemen:

1. Stress the ECONOMIC ADVANTAGES of the current slots program to Government AND to us as described by Nick Eaves in the above article.

2. Stress the LEGAL ARGUMENT that our current partnership agreements with Government are binding for many years and can only be amended by the signatures of All parties. The Government tested its Highway 407 contracts before the Courts and failed badly.

3. Do not appear before the public or our customers as if we are pleading for the continuation of a "subsidy" or for some special treatment not available to others.

February 22, 2012 - 9:42 amGreat article by Beverly

Cam McKnight SAID...

Great article by Beverly Smith.

While the comments by Nick Eaves and Sue Leslie are very constructive, the message is still not getting through to the Liberals.(most PC MPP's have been extremely supportive).

"The province sees it differently according to Liberal MPP Jeff Leal, whose riding borders on Kawartha
Downs near Peterborough, Ont., Leal calls the agreement “a support program” rather than a
subsidy".

"According to Leal, it’s not a matter if the government will restrict the $345-million, it’s a matter of when. “We’ve got to make sure that there’s an orderly transition out of this support program,” he said."

I would encourage everyone (especially in the Kawartha area) to respond to Mr. Leal and his comments immediately. [email protected]

It should be noted that Mr Leal is MPP for Peterborough, and is also the Liberal Government Whip.


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