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Hudak Presents PC Path For Ontario Horse Racing; OHRIA Responds

Published: March 14, 2013 10:30 am ET

Last Comment: March 18, 2013 9:32 am ET | 17 Comment(s) | Jump to Comments

On Thursday, March 14, PC Leader Tim Hudak will formally present his white paper on agriculture and rural Ontario in Guelph, Ont., with part of that paper outlining his party's vision for the future of horse racing in the province.

Titled 'A Better Path Forward For Horse Racing', the PC Party feels the Liberal government should cancel plans to "abandon racetrack slots and spend money on new casinos," and the PC's would instead build relationships and partnerships with horse racing, "allowing it to thrive."

The vision for Ontario's horse racing industry is below.

A Better Path Forward For Horse Racing

PATH 15 - Horse racing must be a key component of Ontario’s gaming strategy. The government should cancel the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation plan to abandon racetrack slots and spend money on new casinos. Instead, we will build partnerships with the horse racing industry, allowing it to thrive.

The horse racing industry is an essential component of Ontario’s rural economy. It employs 60,000 men and women, giving them work they love, and helping to sustain towns and rural communities across the province.

Horse racing is simply an irreplaceable part of rural life, but all the good it creates has been threatened by an ill-considered government policy that will leave a much smaller industry with an uncertain future, if it has any future at all.

People across rural Ontario are rightly concerned about the current government’s decision to end
the slots at racetracks plan that has been in place since 1998, pushing aside rural Ontarians in favour of big international casino corporations. The current government has wrongly portrayed the program as a subsidy to horse racing. In fact, it is an economic development partnership that sees 75 per cent of the profits from the slots go to the province, 10 per cent to horsemen, 10 per cent to racetrack operators and five per cent to local municipalities. It is a plan that has worked well for the government and for the horse racing industry.

The government has created temporary deals with some tracks, essentially to pay a bit of rent to house the slots and keep some money flowing while it works on its big casino expansion plan. But that doesn’t give the horse racing industry any certainty.

There is a better way. The Ontario PC Caucus has proposed alternatives that would save thousands of jobs and revitalize a job-creating sector of our economy. Our critic for Economic Development Monte McNaughton has undertaken an extensive province-wide consultation with the horse racing and casino industries to look at long-term, sustainable alternatives to the current gaming strategy.

So far, we have heard overwhelmingly positive feedback on a proposal put forward in a previous discussion paper, Paths to Prosperity: A New Deal for the Public Sector, to give racetrack operators an opportunity to buy existing slots operations at fair market value, which could save their industry while still providing a good return to taxpayers.

We need to shelve the OLG’s empire building plan to open up 29 new casinos. If we decide to expand gaming option, then why not build off of what is already working and successful in welcoming communities? This would provide the certainty necessary to make investments and create jobs in Ontario.

We will strengthen partnerships with the job-creating horse racing industry, not tear them apart. It’s what rural Ontario, the horse racing industry and thousands of dedicated workers deserve.

UPDATE: On Thursday afternoon, the Ontario Horse Racing Industry Association offered a response to the PC white paper, thanking "Monte McNaughton and Tim Hudak for working closely with OHRIA on their gaming and horse racing policies." OHRIA feels that the PC policy ideas "are an important contribution to the discussion of our industry’s future."

The full response from OHRIA is as follows:

The Ontario Horse Racing Industry Association is pleased with the Ontario PC Agriculture Path to Prosperity document that discusses the PC plan for Ontario’s horse racing and breeding industry. OHRIA would like to thank Monte McNaughton and Tim Hudak for working closely with OHRIA on their gaming and horse racing policies. We believe their policy ideas are an important contribution to the discussion of our industry’s future.

“We have been working with the opposition parties to find a policy that they can endorse and we are happy to see Ontario’s PCs show their support for Ontario’s horse racing and breeding industry,” said Sue Leslie, President of OHRIA. “We agree that it only makes sense for the province to work with the horse racing industry to expand gaming. We are by far the most lucrative partner the OLG has ever had, and anything that hurts horse racing’s contribution to the province, will surely hurt the province’s economy.”

The Ontario Horse Racing Industry Association is committed to working with all parties in Ontario’s Legislature to ensure the horse racing and breeding industry can recover from the damage the industry has faced since the cancellation of the Slots at Racetracks Program.

“SARP ends on March 31, just two weeks from now and our industry continues to be in serious jeopardy. Until a long term, sustainable revenue sharing agreement with the government is in place, there will not be any investment in our industry and thousands of jobs will continue to be lost. Horse racing needs to play a prominent role in any gaming strategy in order for our industry to survive and to continue playing the important economic role it does in rural Ontario.” Leslie added.

OHRIA is working with the province of Ontario and the OLG to integrate horse racing into the province’s gaming modernization strategy, and is firmly committed to ensuring horse racing and breeding are protected during any expansion of the province’s gaming strategy.

March 18, 2013 - 9:32 amAfter speaking with Mr. Georg

jim rigg SAID...

After speaking with Mr. Georg Leber, I think He has the best alternative bisiness plan to present to the Gov't and will indeed be a step in the right direction for the Horse Industry. Thank you for your efforts.

March 17, 2013 - 12:22 pmI think Silvio is right on

dave lewis SAID...

I think Silvio is right on about not being able to trust any party,they all say what everybody wants to hear and after elections are over they do the exact opposite of what they said.I am very wary about any of them.So who is the lesser evil,take your pick!

March 16, 2013 - 6:32 amEverything we read in here is

Everything we read in here is smoke and mirrors. We can't trust any gov't party because in the end. The plain truth is they are all lobbying for votes at the horse industry's expense. There are only 3 tracks affected as we speak so all they have to do is re-instate the SARP and all our problems are over. Every track other than Windsor,Sarnia and Fort Erie still have their slots. Give those tracks back their slots and it's business as usual. Race dates are then assured, horsemen can plan their schedules and 60,000 hard working people don't lose their jobs. It seemed easy enough for the gov't to end the program so it should be just as easty to bring it back. Everyone seems to agree mistakes were made so fix it and stop with all the political rhetoric and excuses.

March 15, 2013 - 3:12 pmThis is a classic case of

dave lewis SAID...

This is a classic case of damned if i do and damned if i don't we have to get rid of the liberals but are the alternatives any better.PC'want to privatize everything[not good]ad well we all know the NDP just go with the flow.

March 15, 2013 - 7:18 amThe big if here is can Hudak

Ian Dow SAID...

The big if here is can Hudak win the next election, he lost the last one, the Liberals didn't win it.
The urban Ontario voter will vote for the Liberals again and were still screwed

March 14, 2013 - 6:21 pmI am not sure that

max cordon SAID...

I am not sure that privatization is the answer unless it includes a stipulation that no-horseracing, no slots; and that a % must go to purses, track maintenance and promotion. Without that we simply have the KD situation only the proprieter owns that slot business rather than just leasing his building to the slots operation.

March 14, 2013 - 5:59 pmThe horse racing industry


The horse racing industry should be pushing the Government for more info one should be careful that were are not exchanging one wolf for another, I am not in favour of what the current government did. One must ask one self do the ownwers of the tracks really want to buy the slot machines and then turn some of their profit back to racing? I am writing from PETERBOROUGH.
The best model for casinos and racing is RACINOS AND EVERY ONE GETS A SHARE. horsepeople,owners, casinos, and government.
Greg Houle

March 14, 2013 - 5:57 pmVery True it was Liberal Lip

Norm Walker SAID...

Very True it was Liberal Lip Service with no facts or figures. But look deep into PC's & NDP they won't comitt figures either not one party will say the words "reinstate SARP" these plans leave out tracks that have no slots or are due to see slots gone by month end.

March 14, 2013 - 5:55 pmNot too much help for

Tom Kelly SAID...

Not too much help for KAWARTHA is it? Easy for you to say Tim ,when you are not the government! The end is sad..

March 14, 2013 - 3:32 pmHudak says "give racetrack

Mark Shurvin SAID...

Hudak says "give racetrack operators an opportunity to buy existing slots operations at fair market value". This does NOTHING to help hard-working horsemen and leaves them even more vulnerable. If you want to see what the private sector will do for horsemen all you need to do is compare the operations of the for-profit tracks with the not-for-profit tracks.

Once again Hudak believes privatization is the answer to everything when all it ever does is concentrate more money into fewer and fewer hands. Just look what it did for the 407 and and ORNGE ambulance.

As always, he'a all sizzle and no steak.

March 14, 2013 - 3:09 pmIt breaks my heart to see the

Dave Nicol SAID...

It breaks my heart to see the number of horseracing participants losing their jobs by the thousands! Every day seems more dreadful than the day before to all of us. I focus on what*s left of our world class breeders as they were the ones that took the hit first and worst. It didn*t need to happen this way, as no study could have been done to recognize the fallout to the over all economy of Ontario by the uncaring instigators. Cutting our race days so dramatically was and is another poor policy. I*ll say again standardbred racehorses must race every week to retain their form with rests when necessary. Anything less is unacceptable! We have been pressuring Mr. Hudak to openly come out to support his colleagues who have been among our most consistant allies. Thanks to Mr. Hudak for speaking plainly about his vision for our industry going forward! Our Ontario horseracing industry is and has always been a made in CANADA profit making organization for the government, and to be treated as anything but has CRIMINAL written all over it!How many more billions do billionares need at the cost of jobs to those less fortunate? In my world I don*t envy your money, but I do object to destroying lives of the vulnerable in the name of greed!

March 14, 2013 - 3:00 pmAlright now lets get out and

Alright now lets get out and support our PC candidates. We have finally someone that has come out and said facts that made sense. Lets truly look at the Liberal announcement the other day. It was full lip service from our PREMIER there was no facts, did anyone here anything about how much we were getting ? THE TRUTH is our PREMIER was looking for the spot light to pretend that she realy cares about Rual Ontario now that she is the Agriculture Minister. The announcement was a joke to me it"s just buying time for the LIBERALS AND THERE PARTNER OLG please tell me i am wrong.

March 14, 2013 - 2:13 pmCan he or anyone figure out

Carey Isenor SAID...

Can he or anyone figure out what the fair market value of a slots operation is. When it makes 1.5 BILLION in profit province wide every year.
The American casino operators and present Ontario government with the OLG are spending millions if not Billions for the oppertunity to ask municipalities if they can set up shop in their areas. How much can horsemen pay for a chance to control their own future.
Could it be more than they are going to pay to not have a future?

March 14, 2013 - 12:49 pmOMG, this plan is super

Georg Leber SAID...

OMG, this plan is super fluff. Nobody is bringing forward a direct plan for a way out and I am almost embarrassed for everyone involved. I have made offers to get involved but so far deaf ears. I have developed a plan that would reduce and give the Liberal a chance to save face and at the same time save us all a lot of bankruptcy and layoffs. Nobody seems to be interest and there is no forum for inventive ideas on this board or any other.

Clearly our industry has to be self sustaining in the end. It is just not there right now and needs time to reduce gradually, not in a year.

I have zero confidence in the OMAFRA panel. People who are described as experts either have no horse racing experience or no business savvy as they are politicians.

Georg Leber-ICR Racing

March 14, 2013 - 12:26 pmBut will he cancel the OLG

Norman Hall SAID...

But will he cancel the OLG modernization program if the Tories get elected and reinstate SARP. He needs to give the casino lobbyists a warning that they are wasting their time and money.

March 14, 2013 - 11:47 amThis is a plan that makes

This is a plan that makes sense. The existing SAR programme was hugely successful for many years. How we got so far left of centre with supposedly intelligent people listening to it appears Paul Godfrey and his cohort Larry Tannenbaum, I just do not understand. We must do everything in our power to ensure the public understand what is at stake. That being our very monetary lively hood. Thinking out loud. Bruce T. Winning

March 14, 2013 - 10:49 amFinally the hounding is

Finally the hounding is paying off! We have to keep educating our politicians about how valuable Horse Racing is to the Ontario economy.

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