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Horse Racing Is Meeting With OLG

Published: April 27, 2015 5:00 pm ET

Last Comment: May 1, 2015 12:00 pm ET | 13 Comment(s) | Jump to Comments

On Monday, the Ontario Horse Racing Industry Association (OHRIA) issued a media release with an update on how "a group of key stakeholder organizations has been meeting regularly" in order to "envision, agree upon and provide ongoing support" for a strategic long-term plan for the province's horse racing industry.

The release is posted below.


The cancellation of Ontario’s Slots at Racetrack Program (SARP) has necessitated a lengthy and critical review of how the province’s vital horseracing industry might move forward to a future of profitable growth and true self-sustainability. This is, by no means, a simple task or one to be taken lightly. Patchwork “fixes” are not an option when an entire industry’s future is at stake. A real solution to a problem this complex, unfortunately, takes more than a few months to achieve. In order to provide the time to affect a strategic, long term plan, the government of Ontario, as you know, has provided $500,000,000 over five years to help stabilize the industry in the interim.

In the meantime, a group of key stakeholder organizations has been meeting regularly and collegially to envision, agree upon and provide ongoing support for such a plan.

Senior representatives from the provincial government, the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG), racing and gaming regulators and the Ontario Horse Racing Industry Association (OHRIA) on behalf of horse people, racetrack operators, breeders and owners, continue working in earnest to design a roadmap for success. This group is tackling a number of complex and time-consuming challenges including:

  1. Optimizing the OLG’s evolving approach to the modernization of its facilities and products with its obligations to meet government revenue demands as well accommodate a fully integrated partnership with the provincial racing industry.

  2. Looking for opportunities to create and grow new revenues for both the racing industry and OLG.

  3. Equipping government ministries such as finance and agriculture and food with the proper resources to assist in the growth and sustainability of racing.

  4. Tasking regulatory bodies such as the Ontario Racing Commission (ORC) and the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) to reorganize in order to meet the demands of racing and gaming integration, including the potential revision of significant legal and regulatory barriers to new programs.

  5. Effecting day-to-day racing industry self-governance to ensure the smoothest possible path to industry sustainability, the most effective relationship with the OLG and regulators and the most effective reporting relationship with the provincial government.

  6. Broadening public interest in horse racing through planning for an integrated, province-wide marketing campaign designed to impact current and future generations of potential new racing and gaming enthusiasts.

  7. Coordinating and cooperating on market initiatives and interactive communications.

  8. Planning for the implementation of the best and most relevant ideas presented by members of the public to racing’s transition panel as part of the long term plan to sustain racing.

Frankly, getting this many groups and individuals on the same page on this many weighty issues is never easy regardless of the industry in question. All have strong opinions, diverse points of view and each one really wants to make a positive contribution to the process. It is also true that the OLG has gone through a protracted leadership change in the midst of its wide-ranging modernization initiative.

Now, under the leadership of new OLG CEO, Stephen Rigby, this industry restructuring committee is moving rapidly toward answers to all of the above challenges. In fact, hands on task forces have been working, in some cases for many months, on each topic. The good news is that meaningful executive meetings are now occurring with regularity and solid progress is being made.

All parties are aware of the uncertainty and anxiety being suffered every passing day by industry participants at all levels. Please be assured that the people and organizations responsible for the racing industry renewal are moving forward. We are taking the time, as precious as it is, to get it right for a strong, vibrant racing industry both in the near future and for future generations.


(OHRIA)

May 1, 2015 - 12:00 pmMr Yanakva , the fact is I

Peggy Powell SAID...

Mr Yanakva , the fact is I did see it coming and so did many of our leaders. We were not all born yesterday you know. The way I here it is that every time the horsemen suggested making changes to the system they hit one hurdle after another. We, the horse community, were behind the eight ball and our only course of action was to trust that the government would honour their contract with us. We all know how that turned out. When the slot handle increased to the point where the government was making over a billion dollars they decided that they wanted more and the American Casino owners were just the ones to get it for them. They gave no thought as to the thousands they were putting out of work and to the huge trickle down affect that they would cause. They just saw dollar signs and a way to hide the foolish way they squandered the tax payers money. Ontario is in financial trouble and the horse racing community is in no way responsible.

May 1, 2015 - 10:29 amMr Yamakva, how would any

John Hill SAID...

Mr Yamakva, how would any industry do if the main competition was the government and wants you gone. Queens Park is in charge of the industry and is helping to euthanize the competition. I agree there is plenty of competition for the gambling $ but the government should not be leading the charge to cost Ontario tens of thousands of jobs to line American casino owners pockets. OLG pays minimum wage to part time employees to avoid paying benefits except for management. How is this good for the citizens of Ontario. You can't fight city hall and you surely can't fight queens park run by by a liberal majority. Horsemens biggest failure in the slot program was in trusting our partners to live up to their responsibilities. SARP needed fine tuning not termination. Also bettors had to pay for parking and admission prior to slots so they have received something from slots.

May 1, 2015 - 2:50 amMr Campbell, it depends on

Will Yamakva SAID...

Mr Campbell, it depends on who's perspective you look at this from.

Us gamblers see ZERO money from the slots. Not a cent goes into the win/exactor/superfecta or any other pool. Only the money us gamblers, makes it into our wagering pools. So when the gamblers go to the tracks, and play slots, it benefits YOU the horseman, but people like me that gamble daily but do not live anywhere near a track, we see NOTHING from that money. So SARP was not successful to us. It only kept tracks open with pools so tiny, that no one that is serious about playing the ponies will play.

You want me to look at the SARP numbers, but I want you to look at the actual revenue bet on your product. There is ZERO way you can tell me that giving away $50k at Sudbury, but only taking in $8k in bets is good. You cant tell me that is success. THAT IS A MONSTER FAILURE!!!!!

In no way do I want harness to die off. I wish you all were drawing thousands of fans, and the wickets were lined up with people supporting you. I love the sport, but I hate watching how its ran.

--

Ms Powell, I hear you. I hear you loud and clear. There is one HUGE difference between our situations. You need me (the fan), but us gamblers do not need you. We have a gazillion other options. I play Woodbine, and Gulfstream. I see the horseman's side. I feel bad for you. HOWEVER, and you can blame the government if you want, you should have seen this coming. Your product got FAR worse as the SARP went on. The government STILL gets every cent it was getting before. If not from the slots, from bingo, if not bingo, casinos, if not proline, if not lottery. Gamblers have options. They go to where the biggest thrill is.

You can government for hurting horse racing, but as a neutral party, they are hardly to blame.

April 30, 2015 - 9:22 pmWill Yamakva where have you

Will Yamakva where have you been for the last 10 years. The SARP is probably the most successful Gaming format ever to be invented. In Canada SARP made millions overnight and still does to this day. SARP offers a variety of betting pools to suite the customers taste and they like it, paramutuels have much less variety and cost more not to mention the skill set you need to compete with "other" gamblers it's a completely different game. Will I like alot of what you are saying and you are absolutely right the costumer should come first providing there is enough customers to sustain the business, the SARP was a partnership pure and simple and No-one knew if it would be a success or failure. The SARP numbers speak for them self "everyone" won.
Reguards, Len Campbell Jr.

April 30, 2015 - 8:53 pmMr.Yamakva everyyone in the

Peggy Powell SAID...

Mr.Yamakva everyyone in the racehorse business does and always have relied on gambling for a living and yes it is good enough for me. The difference between us and the government is that we don't try to shove it down everyones throat. Until the slots arrived people came to the track to see the horses race and it was only a matter of time until the slots took over. This is the reason the small percentage was allotted to the tracks and horsemen. It was inevitable and everyone knew it would happen. The problem occurred, only, when the percentage became huge. I am proud to be in this business not because of the gambling but because I feel fortunate to spend my precious time with such wonderful animals. You say that the horse people are not listening to you, the better, are you ,the better, listening to us? I agree, that some changes needed to be made, but the government decided to end the relationship we had with no thought of tomorrow and in doing so they ruined numerous lives. You have been so critical of the horse people and I think it is about time you tried to see the other side of the situation as well as your own. A little prep time by the government could have prevented this million dollar fiasco. They cut off their nose to save their face and in the long run they have hurt horse racing and their ever so precious slot revenue. No one wins.

April 30, 2015 - 10:29 amIf the OLG wants to integrate

John Carter SAID...

If the OLG wants to integrate new fans and revitalize old ones i will simplify it for them. Reduce takeout, enough said!!!!!!

April 30, 2015 - 7:16 amCan someone explain to me how

Will Yamakva SAID...

Can someone explain to me how slots was win/win for us gamblers?

The quality of the racing dropped a ton over the past decade. Sure, the winners were faster, but horses not even close were getting nice 4th and 5th places cheques.

Us harness bettors did not receive a cent from slot revenue, and it kept open tracks that have such incredibly small pools, that a $10 exactor bet might have been a fifth of the pool? So slots was only good for the horseman.

Considering we are supposed to be the most important part of the game, since no betting, means no racing, it is amazing how these replies seem to forget this. Has anyone ever considered the government might be looking at us fans? Instead of chucking money at a sport fans CLEARLY are not wagering anymore, they put a stop to it.

Has this not donned on you horseman yet? I get that you have a product, and I get this is your career choices, but if the fans cant support it, and gradually lost interest in it over the past decade, do you think Joe Citizen wants government money tossed to ya?

Ms Powell..... the question begs to be asked, you said, "I don't think that any government should have to rely on gambling revenue to balance the countries books. A good honest book keeper could tell them that if there is not enough money then there are no raises and the pensions will have to be cut, just as they want to do to the teachers"

So why should the horseman balance their books from the same money? Sort of a double standard isnt it? Its good enough for you, but not for a government?

As a racing fan, the betting has IMPROVED with the much less racing. Fewer tracks and fewer races has prevented the spreading of the racing dollar and making tracks like London and Flamboro much more bettable now.

Looking at the comments, clearly us fans do not matter.

April 28, 2015 - 2:19 pmIt seems to me that all that

Peggy Powell SAID...

It seems to me that all that has been going on lately is a lot of talking behind closed doors. Nothing has been accomplished, at least not publicized and this is very disheartening to the average standardbred horseman. I mean really, read #1, for example, and tell me what it means. It is just a lot of words put together that sound wonderful, but mean nothing. This Government's revenues can never be met. Their revenue from racing are down considerably and so is slot revenue. Since the beginning of this entire mess both industries are down in revenues and probably will never recover.

All the hard work that has been put into correcting the issues in horse racing created by the McGuinty and Duncan fiasco is for nothing as it all comes back to, Slots at Racetracks was a WIN WIN for everyone involved and now it is lost. I don't think that any government should have to rely on gambling revenue to balance the countries books. A good honest book keeper could tell them that if there is not enough money then there are no raises and the pensions will have to be cut, just as they want to do to the teachers.

April 28, 2015 - 1:25 pmBang On! Truer words were

Carolyn Rae SAID...

Bang On! Truer words were never spoken. It is, as you say, simple math! Problem is, this Liberal Government will never admit it made a HUGE MISTAKE, unless they can find a "scapegoat" to take the fall!

April 28, 2015 - 10:21 amThe solution is so so

The solution is so so simple.
Go back to what worked. The Liberals need to admit to the mistake of cancelling the SARPS, all will be forgiven and lets head back into the direction of prosperity.
What is really sad is that with the great reduction of racedates created a large decrease in live attendance to racetracks. The reduced live attendance has created a large reduction in slot income. This loss of slot income is apparently greater than the money the racing industry was getting from the our agreed share. So instead of a WIN WIN for the government and racing industry, it is now a LOSE LOSE for both parties. All this talk about what to do to save an industry is a waste of time. Why fix something that wasn't broken and why give people in the industry false hope because the industry is finished as it is today. Owners cannot and will not continue to invest some %80,000 a race night to put on a card of racing and compete for $32,000 to $55,000 in purses each race night. How can this math continue to work????????????????

April 28, 2015 - 9:39 amHeres a free idea, Test drive

jim cauchon SAID...

Heres a free idea,

Test drive the most obvious examples to work into this thing....the new public on-line and in-store need to be broken in ..e-a-s-y....so
**had the plan been in place why not a `ponies and punches` one-off contest for this sat may 2..

the bet.....using the tried and true, though downright prehistoric pro-line 3 of 3 format to test drive...

a ponies and punches triactor
1) pick the derby winner from either all names or to simplify, an odd or even numbererd horse
2) who wins the fight mayweather, pacquaio, or draw
3) the round it ends (max 12)

the odds get worked in easily

very simple test drive....consider this combo concept down the road when the were getting closer......
this creates buzz, and its simple for the unwashed masses...

jvtoronto

April 27, 2015 - 8:03 pm1. Optimizing: -

Jim Brown SAID...

1. Optimizing:
- Optimizing the OLG’s evolving approach to the modernization of its facilities and products with its obligations to meet government revenue demands as well accommodate a fully integrated partnership with the provincial racing industry.

(And integrate new fans and revitalize old ones.)

2. Looking:
- Looking for opportunities to create and grow new revenues for both the racing industry and OLG.

(The only opportunity to create and grow a new fan base, annual handicapping contests, to be held in Canada with a prize of $100,000 this amount is very small compared to what the government allows for racing. Yes a very small price to pay for promoting new growth. This new growth will pay ten fold.)

April 27, 2015 - 5:44 pmA few things came to mind as

Dean Nixon SAID...

A few things came to mind as I read this report. Challenge number 1 from the list "Optimizing the OLG’s evolving approach to the modernization of its facilities and products with its obligations to meet government revenue demands as well accommodate a fully integrated partnership with the provincial racing industry." Really? We are putting forth an effort to accommodate a fully integrated partnership with the province? Didn't we already have one?

Second, I am confused how OHRIA represents the entire provinces horsepeople? None of the members of the board of directors, at least from the Standardbred industry, has been elected by the horsepeople. How is it possible they know what my needs are or the needs of other horsepeople are? Or are they so wise as to simply know whats best for the population at large?

At the end of the day the transparency of the transition and with the actions of OHRIA are as clear as mud. It would be nice if those I am forced to accept as representation could provide us with specific information such as what these "task forces" are responsible for, who is on said "task force" and when said "task force" is available to consult those it claims to represent. This process is interesting but it is anything but democratic.

Dean Nixon


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