OLG, Liberals Green Light Plan To End Slots At Racetracks Partnership

Published: March 12, 2012 08:48 am EDT

At a press conference on Monday, March 12, OLG Chair Paul Godfrey and Minister of Finance Dwight Duncan announced the release of a report that indicates the province's slots at racetracks program will end by March 31, 2013


While the OLG has indicated they plan to continue offering slots at some racetracks where there is customer interest, according to OLG CEO Rod Phillips the relationship would be a landlord-tenant based agreement.

Presented publicly in its report "Modernizing Lottery and Gaming in Ontario," the OLG made three key recommendations to reform the province's gaming and lottery industry including ending Ontario's slots at racetracks program in 2013


These three recommendations are as follows:

  • To become more customer focused.
  • Expand regulated private sector delivery of lottery and gaming.
  • Renew OLG role in oversight of lottery and gaming.

With these three recommendations, the OLG suggests allowing for slot facilities beyond horse racing tracks so that sites can be located where, according to the OLG "there is customer interest."

Since 1998, Slots at Racetracks have provided approximately $3.4 billion in slot revenue to the horse racing industry. As long as slots facilities are linked to individual racetracks, the OLG feels it "is unable to consider alternate locations for gaming sites", claiming that "over time this has resulted in the location of gaming facilities in places unrelated to customer interest."

"We're going to look at [the slots at racetracks locations] all on a one-to-one basis," stated Godfrey, noting that the OLG will consult with the municipal councils and the province will develop land-based "gaming zones" within the province.

"I'm sure in some areas there will still be slots at racetracks. In other areas, I'm sure we'll consider alternate sites," said Godfrey.

The report recommends that this relationship be changed to allow for moving, changing, or otherwise improving land based gaming in the province. The OLG recommends ending the Slots at Racetracks funding model though OLG does plan to continue offering slots at some racetracks when there is customer interest. During the press conference, Duncan stated that the government has "given [OLG] the green light for everything that's in there. All the recommendations have been accepted by the government."

Godfrey confirmed that a casino for the GTA will happen, but didn't offer comment on possible sites and wouldn't offer comment on whether or not Woodbine will get that casino.

The Ontario Horse Racing Industry Association will issue a statement in reaction to this news and Trot Insider will post it as soon as it's available.



Im ready to come from saskatchewan and stand at the leg for days with my horses and have all of canada's voice be heard.

I got escorted off the Ajax Picov Downs site today, by OLG Security Guards. Not before I got almost everyone in the OTB there to sign the Petition!! I challenged the Security Staff, saying they would have to get Norm Picov to ask me to leave HIS PROPERTY (if he would be so-inclined).

The OTB owner/manager was called, and we went down to the Picov Downs CEO office ... where we chuckled about how Norm's relationship with then MPP Finance Minister Flaherty had resulted in a 'parting gift' of PC approval for 800 Slots (for 50 cards of Quarterhorse racing!!!!).

The three OLG Security Staff came into the CEO's office, and announced I was 'trespassing' and had to leave the property. Turns out OLG has 'Managing Rights' at the site ... and I guess my subversive activities warranted an ejection ;-) Of course, I insisted that I would have to hear that from Police, but left 'voluntarily' after some calm (though pointed) discussion).

My suspension from the property is Indefinite. And I have accidentally stumbled upon an EXTREMELY EFFECTIVE solution for anyone with a "GAMING PROBLEM"!!! I LOVE HARNESS RACING.

If you read this you will be mad at me. Remember money corrupts most people. Party politics affects us all, it's as bankrupt in principle as OLG or WEG. A year from now Belleville purses will look good if we can race at all.
Wrote letters endlessly to politicians and didn't recieve 1 answer.
Negotiate as best you can, no one will be happy. Invest in Ontario if your nuts.
Too frusterated.

I am surprised that someone like Duncan was able to devise such a devastating take no prisoners blitzkreig type attack on the horse industry and somehow persuade Godfrey to help lead it. Horsepeople were naturally caught completely by surprise as there seems to be no logic to the whole thing. Completely illogical in fact. I think that the only hope is to hold a large meeting to appoint a team to investigate all avenues and to be prepared to operate on the same level as Duncan. Some tough decisions may need to be made. This gov't will only respect forceful organized pushback/response. I've read that some of The First Nations are giving them an earful as they worry about their casinos being impacted. The t.v. stations and newspapers have done their bit to advertise the plight of the horsepeople - but likely to no avail. The horsepeople have leverage and now need to get organized and decide how to respond in an appropriate and effective manner. It is certainly not too late provided a leadership group emerges.

In reply to by Stewy

The truth of the matter.
The OLG had it written in the contract with operators and horseman that they COULD terminate the agreement but had to give a 1 year notice which is what they did.

The horseman get 10% of profit the other 10% goes to the operator whom needs to maintain the premises, snow removal, lawn cutting, security, pay taxes on premises..... I guess the OLG dont plan on having these expenses at their casino, NOT.
Facts are horseman got half of what the Liberals claim they got which is 172.5 million. Operators got the other half.

The move to get the private sector involved in expansion of gambling in Ontario raises some questions.

Having broken their agreements with existing private sector partners (the tracks) who would want to be a private sector investor with the same government in new facilities?

Somebody with money is greasing the palms of the Liberals to get the inside track on new development and wants the existing partners cut out. Pure and simple graft and corruption in the backrooms of the Liberal government.

Who is this Liberal patronage crony ?

No other explanation for their single minded pursuit of the ruination of the horse industry.

I cannot believe how people are being fooled - the liberals rising in the polls!!! We need to me more proactive with our protests - this government seems to be doing what the people want !!!

McGuinty’s advantage over Hudak increases amid talk of cuts, poll finds
tamara baluja
OTTAWA— Globe and Mail Update
Posted on Thursday, March 15, 2012 8:09AM EDT

The Drummond report, with its sweeping measures of how to put Ontario’s fiscal house in order, did not put a dent in the Liberal government’s popularity. In fact, support for the Grits remains high as their advantage over the Tories increases, a new poll shows.

Progressive Conservative support came in around 30 per cent, down from a pre-election high last year of 42.1 per cent when they were ahead of the Liberals, who were at 37.6 per cent. Now, the roles have reversed with Dalton McGuinty’s team sitting at 39.9 per cent, according to the latest Nanos Research numbers.

Support for the Ontario NDP, meanwhile, has seen incremental increases from 16.2 per cent during the last election to 24.7 per cent this year – a new high for Andrea Horwath.

Pollster Nik Nanos says the report by economist Don Drummond drove home the message for Ontarians that the province has to curb spending. This “tough medicine” approach has, somewhat counter-intuitively, helped the Mr. McGuinty.

“The Liberals are benefiting from the tough talk, but also the default position that if there are cuts, they will be done in a compassionate way,” Mr. Nanos told the Globe.

“For a government that really had to deal with increased spending on a number of different files, the fact that it sponsored the report has helped them in the short-term at least,” Mr. Nanos said. “What it has done for voters who think the Liberals might be big spenders based on their track record in the past, right now it’s more of mixed bag where cynical voters might be thinking [...] maybe the McGuinty government can cut spending.”

Nanos Research surveyed 500 Ontarians by phone between March 3 and 5. The poll is accurate plus or minus 4.4 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

The Drummond report has stolen the thunder from Mr. Hudak, Mr. Nanos said, because the PC Leader is now in the awkward position of having to agree with the cuts or move further to the right.

The pollster contrasts this boost in popularity for the provincial Liberals with the federal Conservatives, who are being hammered by opposition parties and public outcry over pension cuts that Prime Minister Stephen Harper has called necessary to ensure long-term fiscal health.

Support for the federal Tories remained exactly the same – at 35.7 per cent – compared to a month earlier, according to a Nanos poll conducted last month.

“And this is where politics become unfair,” Mr. Nanos said. “... If people see a Conservative government cutting spending, they will believe the Conservatives like to do that – that they want cuts for the sake of cuts, but that’s just the lens many voters view the political parties.”

This week’s poll also showed that Ontarians think Mr. McGuinty is the most trustworthy leader , followed by Mr. Hudak and the NDP’s Ms. Horwath, but one of five voters are unsure who to trust. Health care remains the top issue for voters, but concern over the economy and deficit has climbed in the past four months.

The racing industry needs to start putting a face to the game. Have the race tracks hold immediately

Family Nights. Setup booths outside your entrance with representation of the horse, the driver, the

stack of hay,the vet truck and anybody else who will be affected. Highlight the farm family. Introduce

them between races. Thank the betters for their support over the years. Who are you...how many

generations. Call the newspapers and tv etc. The industry feels helpless and so do the taxpayers.

You'll get more sentiment by closing the casino then the race track. Maybe you could help the Liberals

with new math....close casino's and race tracks and build a big big one in Toronto to attract people.

Maybe they could start with shoe stores. Wouldn't you drive to Toronto for one big shoe store. No.

Then you can't go into politics. Remind people that the best job is O'range or ehealth. No

accountability. I am sure that the Liberals will cover the losses personally.

In reply to by surechargealot

How Do You Stack Up against this great resume from his published bio.
Dwight Duncan is the MPP for Windsor – Tecumseh. He was first elected to the Ontario legislature in 1995. He was appointed as Minister of Finance and Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet in 2005, and as Deputy Premier in October 2011.

Duncan has previously served as Minister of Energy and Chair of Cabinet as well as Government House Leader. As Minister of Energy, Duncan brought meaningful change to Ontario’s electricity sector, fostering a culture of conservation, while ensuring a reliable, sustainable, diverse and affordable power supply.

Duncan is a lifelong resident of Windsor. From 1987 to 1995, he served as an administrator at Brentwood Recovery Centre, Canada’s largest alcohol and drug recovery centre. He sat on Windsor City Council from 1988 to 1994.

A graduate of McGill University and the University of Windsor, Duncan has degrees in economics and commerce, as well as an MBA. He has one son, Sean

Supported ehealth. Supported severance twice to pooly capable help. Gave away 1.4 million salary to CEO of Orange plus gave favoured home loan. Lost 25 million and can't find it. Finance Minister Wow.....your career has been something...and now you are going to help horse racing. Windsor must be proud of their local boy turned spoiler.


There are a few owner like myself which are small who may think there opinion doesnt matter. As a small guy who just own a few horses i belive we may have taken the wrong approach to convince the goverment how important it is to continued racing withing Ontario. There is one lesson i have learn that standup and make noise does work with trying to make changes. We have to show them a long term plan what they will be lossing, large chain investers and potentialy other with the resourses. ..as seen there are track already affected at the end of this month and more will be droping as the months go by. A change of strategy or a different approach is needed for us to be seen.

Something is starting to smell. ORC caps how much purse money can be spent. Purse accounts grow. Long before the drummond report. Track stalled at Bellville. OLG comes out with its own report puts nail in the coffin. Key players knew something and I hope they're starting to sweat.

Isn't it sick to think that if I congratulate Woodbine as a winner here, it automatically labels me, a little guy from a B-track as a loser? Remember too, the outcry not so long ago about the elimination of some unwanted seals somewhere out on the ice? I can't help wondering what will happen to many now unwanted foals . . . and they will be in our own backyards throughout rural Ontario.

You wonder why you can't trust these people...

OLG Pres. Rod Phillips said
" — in some cases as in Windsor, having facilities in the same city — don't make sense. "

If you scroll down a few lines later in the same statement he says

" OLG is looking at a gaming facility in Ottawa "
hmmm.. Is he going to close Rideau as well ?

I certainly hope if other tracks have their slots removed, that WEG is planning to divide its wealth with the other tracks to keep racing going.

This is bad news for our fellow horsemen in the east. Competing with the casinos and not receiving a share of it has made it a struggle for the industry here in Saskatchewan. Hope you guys can make some progress.

Blair Burgess - Thank you for expressing my feelings, and I was too shy to come out and say it myself as I am an outsider from Quebec looking in. Finally someone who has noticed that cozying up to the Conservative MPs with photo ops just is not the way to go,you need to seek out the Liberal MP's and rather than provoke, sit down with them. A lot of negotiaton needs to be done before this is over. You need a Jeff Gural in Ontario, who can respresent the whole industry - TB's, SB's and QH's. How come it's always the same people writing their opinions - where are the owners, breeders, drivers in all of this? Let's hear from them.

Another thing, if the table was turned and it was the Conservatives in power, they would be doing exactly the same thing, even with racetracks in Conservative ridings. It's all bull *** and politics, while the lives of people in the industry are held hostage.

my heart goes out to all Canadian horseman and fans.....i watched the demise of racing here in michigan........terribly saddening....

Can we get Kathy McBride's letter to as many newspapers as possible for the public to read. It's a great letter. Also Gary Blackburn is right on we need to take drastic action. To heck with being polite. Government not being polite to anyone. Can one of the industry's groups get started organizing a boycott of slots. Perhaps 1 or 2 tracks at a time. Get buses on standby and funds from the purse accts. and let's get going. If police are called in, so what people have had to deal with them before and I think they will watch their step from here on, besides we are a pretty peaceful group (unfortunately).

Now that our brinks truck has been hi-jacked, what contingency plan has any of our horsemen's associations in place to deal with the purse shortfalls? We can't wait or depend on the next election for results. How does our province arbitraily cancel contracts that do not expire until 2016, especially with no consultation, just an annoucement? Our government's addiction to their own gambling will not only be our demise, but theirs also. Sad days ahead for our heritage!

Just curious why it is we see so few comment's from trainers and driver's, where is there voice? Concerns and comments.

Thanks Carolyn. I submitted the story last night to The Toronto and Ottawa Sun newspapers, The Ottawa Citizen and Toronto Star. I will be frankly shocked if any of the papers print all or any part of it. If anyone feels they can get it printed in their local paper, please feel free. I have posted it on my facebook page and am encouraging friends and family to share it as much as possible. I also sent it to Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson. Hopefully it will give him and his council something to think about when they are making their decision about supporting a new casino in Ottawa when we have Rideau Carleton right here.

I believe that the only solution is going to be lawsuits and I dont believe that WEG is going to jeopardize their position in the New Ontario so Ohria needs to ask all of their members whether they are in or out and proceed with the lawsuits with or without all of their partners. I have no idea how OHRIA is funded but I would personally think everyone who breeds or races a racehorse in rural Ontario would forfeit some revenue in the last year of the program to attempt to change the outcome of this ambush. I am totally disgusted with the political process so If the courts of Ontario side with the government and allow them to ignore the contracts and memorandums of understandings they have with Ohria I will be able to add the Ontario legal system to my list of corrupt entities that I dont trust.

so much happening....but,
would this industry post slot break be any further ahead if we played a very popular US protectionist card by barring incoming US harness signals forcing Canadians to play Canadian tracks.

small-minded thinking but might have to explore some of these to piece survival together.


Alan Fair
E-mail to Mr McMeekin this AM
Mr McMeekin
Your constituents that are involved in horse racing have waited patiently for a statement from you. As you are the Minister of Agriculture and Flamboro Downs is in your riding we expected a little support from you. You were elected to serve your constituents not to agree 'willy nilly' with your leader. Your leader has wasted so many tax payers' dollars, including Caledonia, e-health, ornge,hydro, and here he goes again spending more money to build casinos, when Niagara and Windsor are already losing money. He had a terrific setup with the race tracks.Your government took in many dollars from them,including income tax from the people involed in this industry. That will all be gone now and probably some of these people will end up on welfare.Someone in your government that has some common sense must speak up. The people of Ontario are fed up.We hope for a reply from you. So far we have had no reply.

The most interesting part of all this and the lead up to yesterday's announcement is the low key/inactive role of WEG.

I believe the rural/grassroots is firmly in the sights of the OLG and that the consequences to the industry in rural Ontario could be dire. I hope that the industry in Ontario remembers this day when the next election is called. If Ontario is indeed a 60,000 strong industry with lots of spin off beneficiaries then vote as a block and get rid of those who would kill your industry.

I fear as well that as in the West, the knives will come out between the T'breds and Standardbreds as you seek to carve up a smaller pie. Don't look or any help from the tracks. They are interested in their own skins.

Oh that's great! Keep getting our representatives pictures taken with members of the Opposition parties. Has it been noticed that some of the vindictiveness of these OLG gaming changes is politically motivated. We as an industry are considered PC alligned and IT'S NOT HELPING!! Unless our whole plan of defense is based on a new election. I wouldn't count on that anytime soon and who is to say a new government will not LIKE the new OLG Plan. Some individual MPP's have spoken on our behalf but Party leadership has been pretty quiet. Time for us to "MAN UP" as an industry and realize that in all likelihood changes are going to be made. There is going to be a new deal with a smaller pie and we better pick a representative of OUR interests to be at the negotiating tables when the new agreements are struck. We have a lot to try and salvage: slot enhanced purse structure (at least at some facilities), a valuable OSS program that took years to build into the best on the continent, and some sort of a racing infrastructure that supports both the interests of owners AND breeders. Unfortunately that representative, in my opinion and I think some others, does not presently exist--at least officially. Bodies such as OHHA, COSA and OHRIA (even ORC)have generally put forth a valient effort in the industry's defense to date. But they all are either alligned or fractured parts of our representation. When the " new private operators " (hopefully some are familiar to us)sit down with the OLG to hash out the new deals, hopefully we will be invited to that table. If we are, we need a NEW ALL INDUSTRY REP (or representatives) who is pretty damn smart. Because those on the other side are going to be pretty tough AND probably have more leverage.

if horse racing is such a fantastic sport and a viable alternative for the entertainment dollar then what the hell happened?
I worked the backstretch at the old Greenwood track in TO and spent summers in Garden City (long gone now). Travelled to Alberta and spent many years in BC @ Cloverdale.
Purses used to be based on pari-mutuel handle and people made a living.
While this may not be a done deal, if one assumes it is, instead of pissing and moaning about the loss of the slots , which was probably inevitable anyway at some point in time, would not the collective minds of the powers that be be better of focusing on how to increase both attendance and wagering on the product we are all so proud of?

who knows whats next?


In my opinion the battle plan now should be to hammer away at Paul Godfrey to find out what percentage of the proceeds for new casinos he plans on handing over to these new private operators. If it is more than the 20% that racing currently gets we have the ammunition to go to the public with to get them to question why racetracks that are getting 20% are being closed but new casinos retaining more than 20% are being pushed by the olg. If he claims that the percentages have not been negotiated yet then we can attack him on how he came up with these hyper-accurate revenue projections for 6 years down the road without knowing what the revenue splits with the new operators would be.

As well, we need to keep the pressure on duncan to have him justify to the public as to why a private racetrack getting a portion of hosted gaming revenues is a 'subsidy' but a private casino operator getting a portion of hosted gaming revenues is a 'new strategic partnership'.

It has become quite clear that this government is not for the people but for its self. Why would anyone put 60,000 livlihoods, 1.1billion dollars annual profit at risk because 75% of the profits,with no risk or investment, is not enough. Mr Godfrey this may be the way big business is run but it is not the way to run a government. Hopefully some of the politicians will take this opportunity to bring down this arrogant and short sighted liberal party. This battle must be fought in the media because that is what the political types respond to, maybe a little CIVIL disobediance is called for, desperate times call for desperate actions.

I say lets close the slots down now and see how the Government likes getting 80% of nothing until March 31 2013. Why should the government make a dime for the next year until they shut us down?

The tracks that will close have money in the purse accounts to keep going for a while and if the ORC doesn't like the tracks using it because of their madated purse allotments, too bad, its our money and we can break that agreement just like the government is breaking theirs!! Let them try and stop us!!

Horsepeople can blockade the entrances to each and every track casino and see how they like that for the next year. I am sure that the municipalities who house the slots, would even join in this fight. Its time to make some noise people instead of sitting here trying to be diplomatic about this.

I say shut em down and shut em down now and lets see how they like it !!

Gary Blackburn

In reply to by Gary Blackburn

Gary Blackburn you could be the racing industry's hero!!! I've been saying for a long time how horse people particularly harness horse people never blow their own horns. No one outside racing knows about the great Canadian horses, breeders, trainers and drivers and their accomplishments both here in Ontario and outside Canada. It's the reason you're not seeing much public support. As a former dog breeder and exhibitor I understand the insular nature of your lives. Everything is horses - your business, your hobby, your friends - all wrapped up in the horse world. Unfortunately you have to pay more to the "normal people" because they are your customers and in times like these your support system. The customer base has been lost because horse racing has kept to itself and failed to generate interest in their product except within their own circle.

You could continue to take the high road so to speak or MAKE SOME NOISE NOW because this is your one last shot at survival.

Listen to Gary - he's making a great point. This type of action probably won't garner much public support (it's too late for that)
but it will get your story out there and maybe wake up a few politicians.

In reply to by Gary Blackburn

Tom kelly: you are right on Gary! I for one will be at Grand River Racetrack on every night there is racing this year supporting Ted Clarke ,the tellers,the track employees ,the harness horse owners and drivers,trainers,grooms! READ BETWEEN THE LINES. WEG will continue with WOODBINE and MOWHAWK. The rest of us racing with lower purses from the betting can forget about it unless our horses Qualify for the two big tracks? BOYCOTT THE SMALL TRACKS SLOTS? We have tried that at Georgian !,Every Agriculture Society in Ontario who own and operate harness racetracks should sever ties with OLG LIBERAL GOVT. And the racing commission should be an elected position with real horsemen like Bill Odonell and Brian Tropea as co chairmen? I am going to give away one hundred dollars worth of betting vouchers opening night at grand river to patrons at the races (19 and over) if they use them to bet the horses instead of going to the left into the slots.. How many that love the harness racing will come and join in? SAVE OUR INDUSTRY........T,K,

Dear friends and fellow horsemen, in case you thought this issue does not affect you, please read this letter I sent to Ontario MPPs today.

Dear Ministers

A summary of what has been, and will be:

January 2012

Horse racing industry participants are alarmed when rumours begin circulating about recommendations being made in a "Drummond Report" that could negatively impact racing. The general feeling although is that there will be plenty of time to adjust to any changes since we have signed contracts with the government protecting the slots at
racetrack program for up to 10 years.

February 2012

Suspicions are aroused further as horsemen hear further rumours and begin to realize that the planned racetrack and slots parlour at Belleville has been delayed continually because of what recommendations and changes are planned. OLG ads appear to be more plentiful on TV and radio, and the government ramps up their anti-racing rhetoric.

Despite the financial benefit the slots at racetrack program provides to the residents of Ontario, municipalities, charities and 60,000 employees, the Drummond Report recommends ending the program. Horse racing participants are stunned. An immediate campaign is undertaken to educate the public and remind the government of the success of the program, but the government continues to advertise the slots at racetrack program as a "subsidy".

Breeding farms are alarmed that this news will negatively affect the coming breeding season and millions of dollars in income will be lost.

A racetrack in a small community cancels a several hundred thousand dollar renovation costing jobs and local economy stimulus.

March 2012

The announcement by Ontario the Ontario finance minister and OLG leave horse racing participants in shock and disbelief. Despite having contracts with the racetracks and horsemen, the government will end the slots at racetrack program in March 2013.

Breeding farms are reeling, the affect is immediate: breeding contracts are cancelled, stallion fees from mares bred in 2011 due to foal this year are at risk, millions of dollars invested in farms, livestock, equipment and jobs are at risk. Mares are now carrying foals that will have no purpose, yearlings are being raised that will never race. Broodmares and stallions standing in Ontario will have no future purpose.

March 2013

Despite exhausting every legal avenue, the last horse race was held today at Ontario racetracks. Lifetime horsemen were sombre as they unharnessed their horses for the last time, their futures and that of over 30,000 horses uncertain.

April 2013

Unemployment is on the rise in Ontario as thousands of unemployed horse racing participants struggle to find jobs suited to their skills.

Thousands of seniors, former horse racing trainers and grooms apply for social assistance, unable to make ends meet since their livelihoods were ended by the demise of the horse racing industry.

Thousands of young people apply for job retraining since losing their jobs in the race industry, costing the province millions of dollars.

Slaughter houses are seeing an increase in horse numbers as the price paid for horse meat drops. Animal welfare groups begin protesting the senseless slaughter of hundreds of horses.

September 2013

Former horse racetrack municipalities experience their first budget shortfall of a million dollars or more since the closing of the tracks has meant the end of their 5% revenue share quarterly payment. The mayor of Ottawa warns that budget shortfalls will run up city debt and require cutting programs.

The number of farmers and small business owners filing for bankrupty protection in Ontario is on the rise. Unable to make mortgage and equipment payments or meet payroll obligations, former race horse farms, farriers, some veterinary clinics, livestock feed dealers, etc. are seeking protection from creditors.

April 2014

Animal welfare groups and neighbours are outraged when a local farm, home to 60 broodmares, and over 100 young animals is found abandoned, the owner no longer able to care for the close to 200 animals. Former race industry participants tell the media that the cost to transport the animals to slaughter would have exceeded the value for meat since the price has dropped due to the thousands of animals slaughtered, and the cost to humanely euthanize and dispose of each animal would have been prohibative at about $500 per animal. Less than 10% of horses were
found new homes when the racing industry was ended.

Private investors have been unwilling to step forward to invest in Casinos in Ottawa and Toronto after the government reneged on their contract with former Ontario horsemen and racetracks. As one potential investor stated "the best predictor of future behaviour is past behaviour. The government had no qualms about ending a
successful 15 year long program and cancelling 10 year contracts with the former horse racing industry. Only a fool would trust them not to repeat that behaviour after we have invested hundreds of millions of dollars in new Casinos."

The Ontario government falls deeper into debt and is warning citizens of further cuts to health care, education and social programs. The loss of over 1 billion dollars a year from the former slots at racetrack program and the continuing loss of over 40 million dollars per year the current casinos are experiencing is a strain on the system
states the current finance minister. The sale of government owned assets has done nothing to reduce the principal debt owed, and money invested into on-lone gambling has failed to yield any appreciable revenue.

Are these the kind of headlines you want to read over the next several years?

I would hope that the reason you got into politics was to work to protect your constituents' rights to a good livelihood and build strong communities and business. To see the lives of so many thousands of people taken away during a 45 minute news conference at Queen's Park is not consistent with building a stronger Ontario!

In reply to by kpmcbride

This is one of the best epitaphs I have read to date. This is the message, word for word, we need to get printed in the Toronto Sun, Toronto Star, Globe and Mail, and local newspapers. This is certainly excellently written and right to the point. This will certainly hit the nail on the head for the General Public. Kudos to Kathy McBride for taking the time to put this in writing with future time stamping. The Shock Value/Wake Up Value of this letter is, I believe, immeasurable!
I am sad to read the comments from WEG though. "Looking forward to working with this Government on the modernization of Ontario's Gaming Industry". at what cost to the majority of horsemen and women of Ontario!

I agree with tracks becoming more self sufficient. But the problem at hand is a government who is not working with us in discussions about making change with the least negative impact... and we are an easy target! They pay some jerk to write recommendations padded with poorly researched, one sided, badly thought out ideas who smugly takes Kudo's and writes off a credible and longstanding Ontario Industry larger than the public sector themselves. case in point: Drummond negatively compares Ontario to Alberta & BC subsidies and track numbers no reference to the difference in population bases!! Never mind the revenues generated!!
We just have to get organized ourself and fast! Slow up their process somehow so we can come to the table and be part of the negotiations.

Well, the horse racing industry is now in a position to either roll over and die or fight for its survival. The industry now needs to move forward, and have a plan of attack to become viable for the future. The province has indicated that they with cancel the current slots at racetracks program. They will still need to negotiate a new revenue sharing agreement for the racetracks that will keep slots (and hopefully these race tracks will share or be forced to share revenues with the smaller tracks in the province). If the smaller race tracks that have slots are not profitable (even with the slots) maybe the province would be willing to "privatize" those venues to encourage more revenue growth and put all responsibility on the facility to generate profits.ETC There are many options, and I believe in an aggressive and pro-active approach.

This is ridiculous news, you can be assured someone is getting their pockets filled. It's not the horseman,or the people working at the slots or tracks!! How long do you think it will take for the government to privatize all slots(or casinos in the near future). Someone is winning and it's not us.

I wish Mr.Godfrey would get the smurk of his face while he is sitting there destroying the lives of thousands.His job is not in jeopardy...his only discomfort is the puppet strings are a lot tighter.

Who's kidding whom here. On March 14th 2013 the slots will open like usual, only difference is the horseman won't be getting a cut.

Guys and girls, we are losing the war of words but we can't give up. We need to get the general public more aware of wht exactly is at stake here. We need to flood the 401 and major city streets with trucks and trailers. We need to make the general public suffer to get our point accross.

We need an infomercial involving our kids asking Mr. Duncan not to take thier horse away or their mom and dads' job away. We need to make the public more aware. We also need more of the industry's HEAVY HITTERS to get involved. We can't expect Mark Williams to make every appearance and interview on the news, we need to help him out there. The ball has been thrown at us, its time to pick it up and throw it back twice as hard.

Just another example that the McGuinty Government couldnt care less about rural Ontario. They have there sights on the working mans pocket book and plan on finacially raping ontarioans to pay down the debt. Politics at its worst. Good Luck to all.

Let's face reality folks. This hasnt just been decided in the last 5 weeks, since it first came to light, but rather has been contemplated for some time. Anyone with business savy knows Paul Godfrey is a sucessful businessman, a noted and respected spokesman. Chasing and deflecting comments made are not a way to fight for the industry. The industry needs to go on the offensive.

Contrary to popular belief, this website seems to be the most utilized to get the message out, but its visited by those in the industry, not those outside who's intervention and assistance we need.

I dont see a lot of leadership here - its all incumbent on OHRIA. We need business people not just horsepeople leading the fray. Paul Godfrey represents OLG; (with no disrespect) Sue Leslie represents the horseman.

It's the end of the racing world as we know it! I have had over a month to contemplate this. I am not trying to feel sorry for myself as I know there a lot of people are a lot worse off than I am going to be. But can anyone tell me what a 45 year old technollogically challenged, grade 12 graduate that onlys knows racehorses is going to do with his professional life after March 13th 2013?

At this moment I do not know but I guess I have another year to figure that out. After the Drummond Report came out I did not understand the logic in what the government was trying to accomplish and after today's proceedings I'm even more confused. How can they ruin an industry that creates them so much revenue and employs so many people?

I currently stable my horses at a farm wich is the home of a training centre, breeding operation and a vet clinic. The farm is home to 60 to 70 horses at any one time. The training centre provides jobs for 10 people 4 trainers, 5 caretakers and one maintenance man. The vet clinic employs 3 vets,a vet tech,receptionist and 3 or 4 caretakers. This whole operation was built from business from the racing industry.

I ask who is going to care for these horses or buy them when the government is done decimating this great industry? Who is going to hire these trainers, caretakers, vets, vet tech,receptionist and maintenance man when there is racing industry left? This is just one operation and there are many more bigger and smaller in this province. For many of us in this industry racehorses are all we know. I ask where are we supposed to go and what are we going to do? If racing dies in Ontario it won't be long till it dies in all of North America. Yours sincerely Robbie Robinson .

After breaking promise after promise the first four years,grossly mismanaging the economy the next four years, its incredible the liberal government won any seats in the last election. Clearly all of Ontario needs to vote smarter. That being said the only recourse now is to lobby the opposition parties to stop this insanity.

I have a dream of eventually training thoroughbreds at Woodbine like my parents do. I was hoping I could continue to keep my family's name in the racing game in Ontario. However, now my dreams might have been ended. This is about to kill substantial numbers of jobs, and kill thousands of potential future horse people. Thank you Mr. McGuinty, Mr. Duncan and Mr. Phillips.

What is the process to get a vote of non-confidence for this minority government! Can it be done at all...... or is it too late? Totally p***** off and cancelling breeding contracts.

Well, I guess this is just another example of the Liberals punishing rural Ontario for going Blue in the recent election. Suck jobs out of rural Ontario and give them to the big cities where the Liberals hold seats. This is no democracy.... I hope this was the Liberals putting the final nail in their coffin for the next election. Now we just need the NDP and Tories to topple the government and give us our chance. To cut some money out of the deficit why don't the MPPs give up some of their rather large pay/pension/benefits, never saw that as a recommendation in any report.

As reported on Toronto Star, "OLG officials called this a massive “programming expansion,” one that will give them the opportunity to contribute $1.3 billion annually to the provincial purse by 2017."

Really, they're going to nuke the Slots at Racetracks program that currently contributes $1.1 Billion to the provincial purse and supports 60,000 racing jobs to hopefully be able to contribute $1.3 billion to provincial purses in 5 years??

In reply to by fullofpace

The liberals are not giving up the 1.1 billion dollars, they are just cutting out the horsemen, thus increasing the 1.1 billion.

" Under the plan, the current total of 27 gambling sites would be increased to 29, although no decisions have been made on which facilities might close or where new ones might be built."

This is from the press release, they will keep most slots open, just not give any $$ to the horse racing side.

C'mon folks. We can't just talk to each other about this on SC website. Time to really take the bull by the horns. OHRIA needs to get on TV news (global, CTV etc.) and tell people the truth about how many jobs will be lost compared to those hired at new casino, etc etc. Don't waste anymore time.

I have one simple suggestion. A lawsuit. Government won't likely win as you can't legally desolve a partnership, but at the very least it will be tied up in the courts until, can I call him Dalton, is on his way to a well deserved retirement!

Paul Godfrey, Dwight Duncan and Premier McGuinty need an intervention!!! They are gambling over a billion dollars of this provinces revenues by messing with the current slots at racetracks program.

I am absoluetly disgusted with this government.

Believe it when you hear someone say this business plan was already in the works prior to the last election, but kept very quiet by the Liberals, knowing this breach could cost them the election. Now what do we do about it??? First, and foremost, let's ensure our MPP's who state very emphatically, "they support the horse racing industry of Ontario, and the continuation of the "value for money" slots at Racetracks program". We need to know that our MPPs are not just bobble heads, puppets of the McGuinty Government, who are just telling us what we want to hear.
When the budget is presented in Government, we need this to be the straw that broke the camel's (McGuinty Government) back!!! We don't need such a back-stabbing conniving government in Ontario.
Wake up people! The NDPs and Conservatives say they are in full support of our Industry. Well, let's make them prove it by toppling this arrogant Government when the budget is presented. The livelihood of 60,000+ mainly "RURAL ONTARIANS" directly and indirectly in our horse racing industry, and now after this morning's announcement, even more people in Rural Ontario, as we are hearing employees of the OLG will be loosing their jobs also with Godfrey's and Duncan's new "net jobs" of 2300, should be more than enough reason to replace a Government with absolutely no regard for rural Ontario. A Government which has proven they will say anything (with no qualms whatsoever about lying) as long as it wins them seats. Well, believe it when I say this is only the beginning. McGuinty is concerned only about the populations in the large communities/cities. The places where he won most of his seats. This attack on the Horse Racing Industry is his brazen way of "getting even" with those who didn't vote for him and his croonies, puppets, bobbleheads.
Godfrey and Duncan, both sidestepped the direct question put to them in their news conference this morning regarding encouraging even more gambling in Ontario with the increase in the number of Casinos. Duncan just stumbled and stammered trying to sound intelligent with regard to the statistics, but unfortunately, though not unexpectedly, failed at his attempt miserably. Godfrey jumped in quickly to bail him out, with a stupid statement, that their facts and statistics show them that people who visit casinos and gamble are mainly $100,000.+ income earners. Then within minutes turns around and makes the statement that Ottawa is a likely "zone" for a new casino. It is a well known fact that Ottawa is mainly Government employees, most of whom, certainly do not earn $100,000.+. I would like Mr. Godfrey and/or Mr. Duncan to hop on one of the Casino Rama buses and when you get there, walk around through the Casino and take a look at who is sitting there gambling. They may have to hire Mr. Drummond to do another report to figure out where all the $100,000.+ earning SENIORS sitting at the slots, are doing with the rest of their money!!! But of course, in a news conference, answers are thrown out by one like Paul Godfrey, with no accountability for accuracy. There were a couple of questions asked with regard to the OLG Slots at Racetracks program, but these were skirted very well by both Godfrey and Duncan. When Duncan was questioned on his figures regarding the 1.3 billion increase to the government, and how this was going to be provided. He answered with 2300 net jobs. When pushed again as to how this new program, and the end of the Slots at Racetracks program, and the Private Sector takeover of the casinos was going to yield this money, they really couldn't come up with an actual answer. Only the fact that they wouldn't have to pay the employees. They would be paid by the OLG. How stupid do they think we are. It is infuriating to be talked to in riddles, insulting our intelligence. I know McGuinty and his croonies really believe all Rural Ontarians are a "bunch of un-educated hicks", but I have a wake up call for him. The industry he is hell-bent on ending in Ontario, is part of Rural Ontario, and has been for 200 years, and is one of the few self sustaining profitable industries, without relying on hand-outs or SUBSIDIES from the 'Government' until now. This Liberal Government may very well add to it's list of accomplishments in the very near future, that it successfully and single handedly ended one of the very industries/programs that Ontario is known world wide for as "THE BEST".
If this happens with the support of the Race Track Owners and Municipalities, then we know for sure there has been some under the table dealing going on for some time. It didn't happen overnight! The comment was made also, that there would very probably still be some slots and racetracks in some locations, but would be lost in others. I'll wager those racetracks who keep their slots, and strike up deals with the Government (if they haven't already), made their X in the "right spot" on the ballot last year!!!

This IS the stretch drive. The driver and jockey hootin'n'hollerin' the most at the finishline gets noticed. Keep voicing your concerns to your representatives, keep backing OHRIA's effort to act as a VOICE for all racing industry participants, keep in mind your interests and the effect of one vote next election. Our industry as a whole entity - racing, breeding, job creation, rural economic impact spends big money...A three-way deal between the OLG, Government and the Horsemen/Track Operators can't be re-negociated between just two of those parties can it? Seems to me there may be some legal ramifications, no? The numbers of economic reason and impact are on our side, so how can the Govenrment proceed so short-sightedly?

My heart is sad for everyone affected by this totally unreasonable decision and as a long time Liberal supporter I am deeply ashamed of this treacherous, deceitful and totally incompetent government. Best of luck to all.

The Liberal Government can open additional casinos without destroying a profitable partnership with horse racing. There is nothing to gain by putting thousands of people out of work while claiming they are creating jobs. They need to be made aware also of how this will effect the horses, race horses, broodmares and foals. Liberals are killing people's livelihoods and horses! Shame on them.

I agree Bruce. This should spell the demise of the Liberal party in Ontario. Please, everybody, continue to canvass your MPPs. It is critical that the Conservative and NDP parties are aware of the impact on our industry and are willing to vote against the Liberals.

I think this ridiculous decision can be based upon one simple thing.


Simply put, the Liberals will not allow a Working Conservative Initiative continue. Sadly their total distaste for their political rivals will be carried on the back of their own constituents and taxpayers of Ontario.

This is devastating news. If the Slots/Racetrack program is so bad, then why did the States of New York and Pennsylvania implement their own program using the same business model as in Ontario. It's because they knew that it was a win-win situation for them as well as it stimulated the race horse industry in their respective states while contributing millions of dollars to the state treasury. This announcement makes no sense whatsoever. Secondly, if this program ends in 2013, what happens as a result of the contractual agreements currently in place with the race tracks that expire after 2013. Yes, they can go to court and sue the gov't for "breach of contract" but by the time the case gets settled, we're all out of business anyway. The Liberals have deliberately misled the Ontario taxpayers stating that the $345 million spent on horse racing, will go to health care, etc. I submit that once the province has paid for the unemployment insurance benefits, the welfare benefits and the adult retraining costs, for the people who will lose their jobs, I doubt whether $345 million will cover it. I sincerely hope that the people in the horse racing industry, remember at election time, who "killed" our industry. Good Luck to all.

In reply to by P J Gangle


I am wondering what your thoughts are on my proposing to hold a meeting ASAP to update all the horsepeople on what exactly is being done by OHRIA. You state that your organization is doing everything possible for this industry which I don't doubt, but your organizations ideas and vision, alone, may not be enough.

There are a lot of intelligent people in different types of businesses that have connections to horse racing and their thoughts could be very beneficial to the outcome of this if they were allowed to express their ideas and have a platform to discuss them in a live setting.

A meeting like this could also go a long way in boosting the moral of many people whose future is beginning to look very bleak as well as bringing the industry together at a time when it needs to be together as one.

Gary Blackburn

Last election you observed the demise of the liberal party federally. Today you witnessed the demise of the liberal party in the province of Ontario. How can you put in jeopardy potentially 60000 jobs while stating you are going to create, in the future 2300 jobs, by getting someone to build a costly casino in Toronto and be partners with the liberals in Toronto's Queens Park. My guess is they will not be governing Ontario much longer. Good luck to the Conservatives and the NDP. Bruce T. Winning

You can be assured that OHRIA continues to do everything it can to protect horse racing and the families who rely on the industry.

The industry must remain united and be assured that OHRIA is working diligently to ensure the livelihoods of all participants.

Please visit www.value4money.ca for updates, fact sheets, letters of support from MPPs, videos, etc. A list of the Directors and Members of OHRIA is also included on this website.

Please make sure your MPPs hear your voice as well by sending them your personal letter, or visiting your local MPP office.

Be assured that OHRIA is speaking for the entire industry and doing all it can for the industry and its participants.

Now that the word is out brace yourselves for purse decreases, this is unbelievable.

I don't know if you heard it, but I did. That was the sound of all Ontario breeding operations taking a punch in the gut. The bigger operations may survive but the little guys are already dead, whether they realize it or not. Sorry for everyones loss and good luck in the future.

I am just curious as to when the Government approved all of this! Was this before the OHHA rally that MPP's came out to support. All while knowing what was being approved and how this would affect so many people!

I find the backdrop for their press conference ironic - Jobs - Growth. We must stand behind OHRIA together to fight for our future. This is no time for any particular horseman's group to try to take the lead here. OHRIA is our only hope.

In reply to by johnmacmillan

I would like to make a suggestion that if OHRIA intends to be the leader in this fight that they hold a meeting at a central location to update all the horsepeople of the direction that is being taken. A venue can easily be obtained to host such a meeting and it will give the horsepeople the opportunity to be able to voice their opinions as well and possibly offer some new ideas in this fight to save this industry.

Such a meeting is imperative at this time to inform and educate everyone involved in this industry and I urge OHRIA to set it up ASAP.

Gary Blackburn

Don Patrick

Having worked for the OLG, I can tell you that they have always operated with a ruthless attitude, concerned only with their bottom line.

How utterly pathetic that our own government is now pulling the rug out from beneath us. Unfortunately, this does not surprise me in the least.

well here we go again--first the GST--which really meant in the long run--GOODBYE STANDARDBREDS AND THOROUBREDS--now the liberals introduced the HST--wich really stands for --HATE STANDARDBREDS AND THOROUGBREDS--same message different tactics--what a joke this government is--ornge---e-health -hydro--now horse racing--i hope the opposition stands up and defeats this government==i wonder what people in foreign countries would do with this type of dictactorship--any guesses--lol

These announcements "the government has given [OLG] the green light for everything that's in there. All the recommendations have been accepted by the government" are not made in a few weeks. This deal was in the mix long before the Drummond report came out. That is why they jumped on this " 1 of the 362 recommendations" so quickly , because they had pre-planning. Be careful now as they will divide the horse people and the owners of the tracks they want to lease. I know of a few tracks that if offered the same 10 % or less might prefer to not to offer racing.

Can someone with legal background apply under the freedom for information act to get hold of the change management plan. All large companies and government have a written , approved plan before starting out on a change of this magnitude - this includes pre-set press releases which we seem to be getting at a regular schedule, this will prove this has been in the works for months, probably before the last election.

Did I just watch the existence of my area racetrack receive its fatal blow.So this community lost its go to destination for tourism.It lost its stream of revenue to the community, and the end result WILL be the loss of our racetrack,our slots,and our jobs.Of all the Ontario tracks I have been to,I applaudthe efforts this track has made to make their establishment a destination.I'll be sad when it is gone..

be a landlord-tenant based agreement.
In this case the landlord is the track owner and the tenant is the government. Horseman are getting cut out of the equation.

In reply to by duke77

I guess that's true unless the horsemen at the track can get themselves written into the individual landlord tennent agreement through the track owners.

As a person who has been involved in horse racing my entire life I am sitting here with a lump in my throat and a pit in my stomach. I can't help but feel that as horse people we have been duped again. Many times as a Director with OHHA I went into negotiation meetings with the racetracks knowing full well that keeping what we had would be the near impossible goal. Like water dripping from a faucet...drip, drip, drip...there was a constant push for us as Horsepeople to take less and in most cases we did as time and again we were reminded that horse racing costs too much money and that we should be thankful for what we have. Fingers were wagged by all sectors at horepeople who "always wanted to fight and were rocking the boat". Some track operators who informed me personally that there was no reason to sign a contract with OHHA as "they would look elsewhere and consider their options". So here we are...Horsepeople now splintered and given so very little regard from OUR Government. There was a time that our lobby was very strong and afforded the courtesy and respect it deserves...at the moment that seems to be a distant memory. I am asking all of the people who are leading their respective horsemen's associations to make a public declaration that we are now working as one and will choose one person to lead us moving forward. Three years ago I commented to a colleague that it would require a very large disaster...like the government moving away from the slot deals for horsepeople to get back together, unfortunately I will now get to see if I was right. We have been in the dark far too long folks and it is time to turn on the lights.


In reply to by Darryl MacArthur

Yes, it's too bad Darryl. You didn't get the support you needed from some segments of the industry which made it impossible to accomplish anything. A lot of people thought they would race at their own little track and not ruffle feathers. I hope they are paying attention now.

Gentleman the tenant landlord relationship all ready exists . The rent is 25 percent of the loss on the slot machines and it sounds like you would like to change the game. I hope the liberals will be able to save face by negotiating rent costs on the existing race track sites to be equal to the same amount of money that is presently being paid. I believe the number one objective all along has been to allow the government to expand casinos in Ontario while distracting the public. Unfortunately the Liberals set fire to the racing industry to create the distraction and are now moving down the road to expanding casino gaming. I hope that Ohria will keep racetracks , municipalities and horseman groups united in the fight so that the solution that is found compensates tracks ,municipalities and horsemen. My big fear is an agreement that involves rent being paid to tracks and municipalities and leaves the horseman out in the cold. Good luck Ohria

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