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Why Did OLG Just Cut Racing?


Published: April 16, 2012 8:51 am ET

Last Comment: April 18, 2012 3:49 pm ET | 5 Comment(s) | Jump to Comments

In an interview last week, OLG President and CEO Rod Phillips was asked why the Ontario government ended the slots-at-racetrack program with a drop-dead date of March 2013 instead of working with the industry to discuss a possible phase-out or percentage reduction. Phillips' reply: “I don’t have an answer.”

Phillips was in Kingston recently to reassure those involved with the Thousand Islands Charity Casino site that they were safe. His comments with respect to horse racing were less kind.

“At the end of the day the OLG’s role is to run gaming and lottery and the decision by the government of about where the money goes is a decision by the government,” Phillips told The Whig-Standard.

Phillips' comments touch on a report commissioned by the government in 2008. Penned by a "Strategic Planning Panel", the report was designed to examine the current state of horse racing, consult with stakeholders and create a long-term strategic plan for the future success of the industry in Ontario. On that panel: William McDonnell, a long-term racing industry leader, Jane Stewart (former federal minister of Human Resources) and Stanley Sadinsky (former Chair of the Ontario Racing Commission). Phillips noted that neither racing nor government took heed of the report, referred to by Phillips as a "good piece of thinking" that recommended the slots at racetracks program should continue but with benchmarks established to ensure program viability.

Instead, the government let Ontario's racing industry proceed, continuing to churn billions of dollars into the government coffers, and then made the decision four years later to end the program altogether. Phillips even went so far as to call Sadinsky a "wise man."

"I don't think there's any doubt in this that government is driven by the bottom line here and there should be no misunderstanding on that, but there's also a huge public policy issue involved and that is the survival of an agricultural-based sector of this province that has a long, long history," Sadinsky told CBC's The Current last week.

"There are many jobs associated with the horse racing industry in Ontario, and so the government has a major policy question here as to how to balance what it sees as revenue potential with the impact that it will have with the other sector of the equation."

Both the Ontario Government including Finance Minster Dwight Duncan and the OLG declined CBC's interview request.

April 18, 2012 - 3:49 pmWhen the CEO and president

When the CEO and president of the OLGA doesnt Know why the slots at racetracks is being cut he only makes himself and the OLG look incompetent of running anything!!!

April 18, 2012 - 3:41 pmRod Phillips ... I think you

Rod Phillips ... I think you are lying! A decsion of such monumental impact could not possibly get past the President and CEO of the OLG without knowing the reason. You must have Liberal blood running through your veins. You make me sick! Chris Puigmarti

April 16, 2012 - 4:33 pmAll horseman across Canada

All horseman across Canada are very concerned about the way the industry is being treated in Ontario.While protests and public pressure is very effective,the only way to solve this problem is for the horse industry to meet face to face with Dwight Duncan and Dalton McGinty and explain all the ramifications of the cancellation of the Slots at Racetrack program.There is nothing as effective as a face to face discussion,In BC we have been very effective by meeting with all levels of governmenton on personal basis.Good Luck

April 16, 2012 - 3:48 pmI have my reservations about

Norm Brunet SAID...

I have my reservations about the OLG, AFTER ALL THEY WERE THE ONES THAT PROVIDED DUNCAN with the figures to close down the slots at 3 tracks immediately and the number 6,000 for the employment figure for our industry.

Furthermore the TWO recomendations that affected them in the Drummond report have yet to be addressed. They still have 2 casinos in Niagara Falls and 2 head offices.
Seems that it is not acceptable to have a casino and Slots in the same city (Windsor) but they can have 2 casinos in Niagara Falls.

April 16, 2012 - 10:15 amThis mess should not be a

This mess should not be a mystery to anyone. On march 12 The Liberals received a report they had commissioned in 2010 stating that to maintain the present substandard condition of Ontario casinos would cost the government a billion dollars over the next five years and to upgrade and modernize would cost upwards of 3 billion dollars.(Buffalo News March13). It seems
their only solution to the problem is to dump their casino ownership onto the private sector. Is it a stretch to suggest that they are willing to destroy the racing industry just to make casinos look good for a fire sale? It's no wonder they won't discuss the situation!

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