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New Funding Agreement For Alberta

Published: March 19, 2016 2:28 pm ET

Last Comment: March 20, 2016 10:16 am ET | 1 Comment(s) | Jump to Comments

Alberta's Minister of Finance and President of Treasury Board Joe Ceci announced a new 10-year funding agreement for the provincial horse racing industry at a press conference on Saturday, March 19 at Century Downs Racetrack and Casino.

The Government of Alberta and Horse Racing Alberta (HRA) have signed a new 10-year agreement, which will support rural communities and the agriculture sector. The agreement replaces a previous 10-year funding arrangement expiring at the end of March, which supported the industry using a portion of slot machine revenues from Racing Entertainment Centres (RECs) located in a number of locations around the province.

This new agreement is expected to directly support 1,600 Alberta jobs and result in significant additional indirect economic benefits for rural communities and businesses.

"I'm very excited to announce the renewal of the funding agreement between the Government of Alberta and Horse Racing Alberta," said Ceci at the press conference. "This new 10-year commitment will continue to support an important economic and cultural piece of rural Alberta and the agricultural sector, and will build the foundation for a long-term sustainable future for the province's horse racing industry.

"This agreement came about through productive discussions over the past several months with Horse Racing Alberta, members of their board and members of the industry. As a government, we recognize the importance of horse racing, not only from a cultural perspective, but as a source of livelihood for many Albertans."

Ceci stressed that no tax dollars are used within this funding agreement and explained that funding will continue to be provided in the form of a grant from a percentage of slot machine revenues at RECs. He noted that the renewed partnership will help ensure the viability of Alberta's horse racing industry and reflects the government's focus on responsibly managing provincial finances during the economic downturn.

"At a time when all Albertans, including the government, are tightening their belts, HRA has agreed to a gradual reduction in that grant," explained Ceci.

Under the new agreement, the percentage will be gradually reduced over three years from 51 2/3 per cent to 40 per cent: 50 per cent in 2016-17, 45 per cent in 2017-18 and 40 per cent beginning in 2018-19 and for the remainder of the 10-year term ending in 2026.

"Alberta's horse racing and breeding industry is optimistic the Government of Alberta has provided our industry with the means to successfully manage and develop the future of horse racing and breeding in the province," said Rick Lelacheur, Chair of Horse Racing Alberta. "The length of the agreement is essential to the breeding industry, which plays an important role in the economic impact of horse racing in Alberta. HRA is confident with this new agreement that the horse racing industry will continue to provide Albertans jobs, along with being an entertainment and racing destination at the four RECs in the province."

(With files from the Government of Alberta)

March 20, 2016 - 10:16 amGreat for our industry here

Great for our industry here in Alberta. You know what you are getting for the next 10 years (stability) Hopefully this will encourage new people to step up to the plate and get the ball rolling towards building a new track in the Edmonton area. I have one fear, if this track doesn't get built quickly in the Edmonton area, and that is the fact, that the thoroughbreds will probably be looking to run from spring to fall at an A track facility next year and right now I would suspect that would mean Century Downs which would send the Standardbreds racing where during the warm weather months? I would hate to get shuffled back to a small track. As of now though, lets get through this year and hope that the thoroughbreds, Standardbreds,and quarterhorses, will come up with a successful coexistence in Alberta for years to come. I applaud the NDP gov. in Ab for getting this done, and I also applaud all the work that Century Downs has done in marketing racing primarily the Standardbreds. I would hope that the race cards will be full for many months to come at both Northlands and Century. Nothing like throwing full fields out there for the betting public. Short fields are great for owners, but we need it to be great for our bettors too. The more they bet, the better the chances of seeing purses increase. On a side note isn't it too bad that the Saskatchewan government can't see past the thoroughbreds, and Marquis Downs in their province.

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