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Alliance Wagering Exceeds Expectations

Published: April 13, 2016 11:30 am ET

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The Standardbred Alliance acknowledged Wednesday that its customer-driven focus is responsible for strong wagering results the racetrack association achieved in its second year.

All-sources wagering on Standardbred Alliance racing from April 1, 2015 to March 31, 2016 was $432,335,245, a healthy 9.63 per cent increase over $394,367,606 bet from April 2014-March 2015.

Led by Woodbine Entertainment Group (WEG), the Standardbred Alliance is a consortium of eight Ontario racetracks created in April 2014. Its goal is to deliver Standardbred racing and wagering opportunities with a focus on ease-of-access to customers, consistent racing opportunities and purses for its participants, efficient track operations and coordinated efforts to attract new fans. The members represent a three-tier racing hierarchy: Grassroots (Clinton, Hanover), Signature (Flamboro, Georgian, Grand River and Western Fair) and Premier (Mohawk and Woodbine).

Home Market Area (HMA) wagering, a metric which includes live and simulcast betting at the Alliance tracks, WEG’s on-track, and Champions Off-Track operations, reached $836 million in 2015-16, $28 million more than $808 million bet in 2014-15.

“We are pleased to see our customer-focused model working for the Standardbred Alliance,” said Jamie Martin, Chairman of the Board for the consortium.  “The Champions Off-Track brand has expanded its footprint to all corners of the province and betting on horse racing is available and convenient to many Ontarians within their neighbourhoods. This coordinated effort proves the key factions within the horse racing industry can work together to offer an outstanding product for our current fan base and potential new long term customers.”

The export market has also flourished for the Standardbred Alliance.

“We have also seen the coordinated racing model, competitive racing and increased distribution into markets outside of Ontario contributing nicely to our wagering handle and fan interest metrics,” Martin said. “These overall wagering results realized in Year 2 of this new operating model have already significantly exceeded the entire five-year commitment with government through the Horse Racing Partnership Plan.  This was the largest growth story in Canada for the year.”  

“While the achievements and successes in the Standardbred Alliance are a collective effort among all member racetracks, Woodbine has been the real leader in these endeavours and has helped immensely at forging a new age for racing in Ontario,” said Hugh Mitchell, Chief Executive Officer for Western Fair District.

Challenges remain for the Standardbred Alliance going forward.

The Standardbred Alliance recognizes field size and overall horse supply levels are becoming more challenging now because of issues such as the effects on the breeding cycle with the cancellation of the Slots At Racetracks Program and horses being sold to the US as a result of low Canadian dollar. Factors such as these may potentially derail strong gains in wagering growth and the fan goodwill developed by the Alliance in its first two years of operation.

“The Standardbred Alliance tracks are facing a horse supply issue and going forward it may be difficult to keep field size up,” said Martin. “We intend to work with government, Ontario’s horsepeople and other industry influencers to ensure we are able to avoid detracting from the great strides we have made to deliver an outstanding customer experience.”

The original key goals of Standardbred Alliance remain intact. Maintaining a live racing schedule with competitive purses as part of efforts to raise the quality and consistency of the customer encounters is the core objective of the consortium.

(Standardbred Alliance)

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