“Vocal casino opponents in Toronto, Hamilton, Kingston, and elsewhere are seeing their voices drowned out by wealthy corporate casino lobbyists. Families and businesses involved in horse racing are witnessing their once-thriving industry gutted to make way for private casinos, with no thought being given to the thousands of Ontarians who depend on horse racing for their livelihoods.”
The above quote is from Essex MPP Taras Natyshak (NDP), who is set to introduce a motion in the Ontario Legislature on Monday, March 18. The motion will call for the suspension of the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp.'s controversial gaming modernization plan until after municipal elections scheduled for 2014.
The release from Natyshak, which appears below in its entirety, states that his motion also calls for municipalities wishing to be considered for a casino be able to put a casino referendum question on the ballot, and fair spending limits would be established for the campaign leading up to the referendum.
Also, video of Natyshak's Friday press conference on the issue appears below.
NDP: OLG Revamp Should Allow For Municipal Referendums And Real Future For Horse Racing
Essex MPP Taras Natyshak is introducing a motion at the provincial legislature aimed at addressing serious concerns about the current revamp of the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation and the future of gaming in Ontario.
“Ontarians are very worried about the Liberal government’s direction on gaming in the province,” said Natyshak. “Vocal casino opponents in Toronto, Hamilton, Kingston, and elsewhere are seeing their voices drowned out by wealthy corporate casino lobbyists. Families and businesses involved in horseracing are witnessing their once-thriving industry gutted to make way for private casinos, with no thought being given to the thousands of Ontarians who depend on horseracing for their livelihoods.”
Natyshak is concerned that PC Leader Tim Hudak’s position also misses the mark.
“Ontarians are also worried about what they’re seeing from the Tories,” said Natyshak. “Mr. Hudak has to be clear what side of his mouth he's talking out of. In one breath he says he wants to stop the government from ramming casinos into communities that don't want them. On the other, he's promising to privatize all gambling and let the Donald Trumps of the world decide where to build.”
The NDP motion, being tabled on Monday, would suspend the transformation of the OLG until after the 2014 municipal elections. Municipalities wishing to be considered for a casino would be able to put a casino referendum question on the ballot, and fair spending limits would be established for the campaign leading up to the referendum.
“Casinos aren’t a magic pill for a province’s financial problems,” said Natyshak. “Affected communities should be given the chance to weigh the costs and benefits before any decision is made.”
The motion would also require the government to maintain the Slots at Racetracks Program until a viable plan for the future of Ontario horse racing can be implemented.
“New Democrats understand that there is work to be done to modernize and strengthen the horse racing industry, but this government simply wants to privatize all gambling and let the Donald Trumps of the world do whatever they want,” said Natyshak. “Let’s take a step back, and collaborate on a real plan that will allow this industry to flourish in the future.”
The Ontario Horse Racing Industry Association responded to the announcement on Friday, stating the following:
OHRIA Supports NDP Motion To Protect Ontario Horse Racing
Today the Ontario Horse Racing Industry Association was pleased to hear NDP MPP Taras Natyshak's announcement regarding his party's plan to introduce a motion calling on the suspension of the OLG's modernization strategy until municipalities have held referendums in conjunction with the 2014 municipal elections, and the re-instatement of the Slots at Racetracks Program.
"Time is running out for our industry. We need action now. If our elected officials do not act soon to ensure there is sufficient funding for horse racing through revenue sharing arrangements, horse racing in Ontario won't survive," said Sue Leslie, president of the Ontario Horse Racing Industry Association.
"The current government does not believe the Slots at Racetracks Program is the best way to go forward, and is prepared to allow our industry to shrink by thousands of jobs during this difficult economic time. By ending SARP so abruptly and forcing racetrack operators into short-term leases that do not require live horse racing, we are dooming any future investment and by extension our industry itself," Leslie added.
"We enthusiastically welcome the NDP's motion and call on all MPPs to support it, because it recognizes the urgent need to shore up the Ontario horse racing and breeding industry with sufficient funding now, so that we can survive to be integrated into the gaming strategy longer term."
The Ontario Horse Racing Industry Association continues to work with all parties to ensure our industry remains a top priority during the legislative session and budget deliberations.