Ontario Racing Releases Final Long-Term Funding Consultation Report

Published: March 17, 2017 03:31 pm EDT

After extensive industry consultations, Ontario Racing is pleased to release the Final Long-Term Funding Consultation Report. This report reflects the perspectives heard from industry stakeholders regarding a proposed long-term funding framework for a sustainable future for horseracing in Ontario. This report also includes Ontario Racing’s recommendations for how the proposed funding framework can be modified and augmented, based on feedback from industry participants. The report can be viewed here or as an embedded PDF below.

Ontario Racing conducted consultations over a period of five months, and provided opportunities for interested parties to offer their thoughts through a variety of channels and at several different points throughout the process. A draft version of this report was also released, to ensure that industry participants had ample opportunity to participate in the consultation process.

Recommendations made by Ontario Racing reflect and evolved from key issues raised by consultation participants. These recommendations will be used to inform negotiations for a final long-term funding agreement.

Ontario Racing thanks those who have participated in these consultations, and appreciates the support of the provincial government and OLG as we work to deliver a sustainable path forward for the industry.

Key facts:

  • Over 800 horse racing industry participants engaged in Ontario Racing’s consultations including all major horse person organizations and racetracks.

  • Ontario Racing offered opportunities to engage in seven in-person sessions, conducted across the province, facilitated two webinars, two leadership sessions and provided on-going opportunities for written and online feedback.

  • A long-term funding agreement will provide the horse racing industry in Ontario with the certainty they need to invest in their businesses.

Common Questions About Ontario Racing’s Long-Term Funding Consultations

How did you compile the feedback in this report?

OR believes that the information compiled in the consultation report is an accurate reflection of the feedback that we received from the industry. It is important to recall that the in-person sessions were only one way that we obtained information. We also received letters, written submissions via the web portal and we collected comment cards from the in-person sessions. The report reflects the totality of that input.

Who will ratify the final long-term funding agreement, and what is the process?

The final Funding Agreement will be signed by OLG and the new Racetrack Alliance, which will have as its members all of the live horse racing venues in Ontario. Ontario Racing will provide support for the formation of the new Alliance, but this process has not yet been determined. As part of the overall funding strategy, the board nomination process will then be reviewed by OLG. The new board composition will include representation from all levels of racetracks and each horse racing breed.

Before execution and implementation, the final Funding Agreement must be approved by the Ontario government and a regulation must be added to the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation Act to allow OLG to provide the funding.

Industry participants do not currently have access to data that relates to pari-mutuel growth. When will this information be released?

Just recently, OR worked with government partners to release a ten-year historical view of Ontario-related wagering. OLG’s plan is to include the gross handle on the Ontario product as one of the key performance indicators to be communicated to the industry on a regular basis.

The Letter of Intent talks about the Racetrack Alliance having an agreement with only one horseperson group per breed -- what does this mean?

Similar to the current Standardbred Alliance, as all wagering will be conducted through a central body (the new Racetrack Alliance), an agreement with one horse persons group on behalf of the racetracks in the Alliance is a licensing requirement from CPMA. It will be the responsibility of the new Racetrack Alliance Board to make decisions regarding these agreements. Outside of the licensing requirement, the operation of multiple horse people’s groups will be up to the discretion of industry participants.

What does this mean for the Enhanced Horse Improvement Program?

We know that this program is important to the industry, and that breeders need certainty about what their future will look like. Ontario Racing is continuing to work with the provincial government, with a focus on OMAFRA -- which currently funds this program -- to determine what this program will look like as we move forward. Ontario Racing has shared the importance of a timely decision on the continued availability of this funding with our government partners.

There were a variety of opinions expressed about WEG in the consultations. How will it be ensured that their role benefits the industry as a whole?

WEG is a critical player in the industry, representing over 85 percent of the wagering in Ontario horse racing. To think that a sustainable industry could be possible without WEG's active participation would be impractical. Moreover, it can be fairly said that WEG's management of the Standardbred Alliance has been a very positive experience for that group of tracks.

Additionally, there are a number of measures that were built in to the LOI to ensure that no one party dominates the industry. For example, WEG will not be in the majority on the board of the Racing Alliance. Further, there are approval processes in place at OR, OLG and the AGCO that will ensure that there is a fair balance in decision making.

(with files from Ontario Racing)

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