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Western Fair Forced To Cut Jobs

Published: March 23, 2013 6:59 pm ET

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The Raceway at Western Fair District has been forced to reduce its staff with the Slots-At-Racetracks program ending in just over a week's time, according to reports from a local newspaper.

The London Free Press has reported that as many as 20 people have been laid off at Western Fair.

“As a result of the cancellation of the slots-at-racetracks program...we had to make a small staff adjustment,” Heather Blackwell, corporate affairs manager at the Western Fair, was quoted as saying in the article.

Western Fair reduced purses in January due to the uncertainty regarding funding arrangements post March 31, 2013 with the government cancelling the Slots-At-Racetracks program. Job losses could not be avoided despite the London, Ont. racetrack reaching a lease agreement in principle with the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. and a transitional funding deal with the province.

“I know for sure there’s going to be other tracks announcing over the next couple of weeks that they’re no longer going to offer live racing,” PC MPP Monte McNaughton (Lambton-Kent-Middlesex) was quoted as saying in the London Free Press article. “Clearly because of the Liberal government’s decision, thousands and thousands of jobs are going to be lost in the horse racing industry. The government continues to say the horse racing industry is going to be smaller — 60,000 people work in this industry and it wouldn’t surprise me if over half lose their jobs.”

Windsor Raceway closed at the end of August 2012 and Kawartha Downs is set to shut its doors at the end of the month affecting racetrack employees along with local horsemen and related businesses. The country's largest racetrack operator, Woodbine Entertainment Group, was also forced to cut its staff by over 100 jobs in a significant restructuring in February.

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