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Is Anyone Listening?

Published: April 3, 2009 11:02 am ET

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At this point, when it comes to discussing the impact that offshore and reservation-based internet gaming has on the Canadian horse racing industry, Jane Holmes must be blue in the face.

The vice president of Corporate Affairs for the Woodbine Entertainment Group has gone on the record countless times regarding the topic. She constantly finds herself restating the obvious: there is not a level playing field between Canadian horse racing tracks and online gaming outlets.

In an article today by the Toronto Sun, Holmes said that being able to compete with what offshore outlets have to offer "continues to be a challenge." She estimates that WEG loses $200 million due to the increased options gamblers have available to them.

Many online outlets have the ability to offer customers better takeout rates mainly due to the overwhelming disparity in operating costs. In terms of real regulation of the industries, the comparison of land-based racing operations to offshore companies couldn't be any more opposite. Figuratively, the tracks have the shackles on firmly, while offshore companies are allowed complete freedom. "We can't compete with them because, if we did, we'd lose our racing licences," Holmes was quoted as saying in the Toronto Sun article.

"Fifty per cent of the commissions we make is put back into purses," explained Holmes. "If you start losing handle and wagering, it affects the purses and the revenues the owners make and it has a spin-off effect on the jockeys and everyone else right back to the agricultural community. We estimate illegal internet gambling takes away about $200 million annually from our handle at Woodbine."

To read the Toronto Sun article in its entirety, click here.

(With files from Toronto Sun)


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