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Owner Takes Out Full-Page Ad In Support Of Horse Racing

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Published: May 14, 2012 4:00 pm ET

Last Comment: May 17, 2012 12:30 pm ET | 25 Comment(s) | Jump to Comments

Ed James was recently recognized at the leading owner at Grand River Raceway for 2011, but after today James might just be heralded as the leading owner in all of Canadian horse racing after paying for a full-page pro-racing ad in the Monday, May 14 edition of the Toronto Star, questioning the recent attack on the horse racing industry by the Liberal government and the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp.

A longtime fixture in Canadian harness racing, James owns standardbreds in addition to SSG Riding Gloves. The ad, asking Ontarians to examine and rationalize the OLG's move to end the slots-at-racetracks program, appeared at the back of the GTA section of the Star. The text from the ad is as follows.


TO THE RESIDENTS OF ONTARIO
One man's opinion of a Government either lost in the fog or laying a smoke screen.
YOU DECIDE.

After 10 years of a successful and major income-generating contract for the Ontario Government and communities surrounding horse racing centres, in addition to the equine industry and racing operators, the Government has canceled the contract.

The profit split of the Slots-at-Racetracks program was: 75% going to the Government, 5% to surrounding communities (i.e. Windsor), 10% to the equestrian industry and 10% to the racetrack operators who provided the property where the slots are housed. Total Government income over the 10 years was over $16 billion dollars.

The apparent reason for the contract cancellation was the result of an analysis and recommendations of the Drummond Report, requested by the Government to find a solution to the spiraling deficits, created by the Liberal Government, in an effort to balance the budget.

In Chapter 17 of the Drummond Report pertaining to the Government's business enterprises, various recommendations were made. The two main subjects were the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) and the Ontario Lottery & Gaming Corporation (OLG).

LCBO: Recommendations were clear in Section 17-2 and hopefully will be followed.

OLG: The OLG recommendations were clear in Section 17-3:

1) *Close one of the two OLG head offices
2) *Close one of the two casinos in Niagara Falls
3) Allow slot machines in sites not co-related with horse racing venues i.e. bingo halls, etc.
4) *Stop subsidizing the purchasing and provisions of lottery terminals to point-of-sale locations and begin to introduce other points of sale for lotteries.

*Three out of four were cost reduction suggestions.

17-4 Recommended re-evaluation on a value-for-money basis, the practice of providing a portion of net slot revenues to the horse racing and breeding industry and municipalities in order to substantially reduce and better target that support.

(Freely translated by the Government: close the slots at racetrack program in spite of the contract. Some in 7 weeks, some in April of 2013 and open your own casinos for the benefit of yourselves and your casino operators)

Of the five recommendations pertaining to the OLG in the Drummond Report, three were cost reductions and two were income generators.

The Government chose to eliminate the income generators and ignore the cost reduction recommendations. I presume the three cost reductions went against the grain of the Government and might personally affect the lives of some of their individual appointments.

Better that than affecting 60,000 people, 31,000 full time, by putting them out of work.

The Drummond report refers to casino operators as from the 'private sector.' Let's talk about 'private sector.'

1) Caesars Windsor Casino is operated by Caesars Entertainment Corporation based out of Paradise Nevada. Do you call this the private sector?

2) Casino Rama is operated by Penn National Gaming from Wyomissing, Pennsylvania. How does this private sector benefit Ontario?

Both of these 'private sector' companies operate these casinos on a management fee basis - right off the top of the operation profits. Management fees can cross the border tax-free, funneling money into the U.S. casino operations. Great benefit to Ontario! But let's give them more casinos; how about 29 of them in fact? Yes, that's what your government had planned.

Maybe the current private sector managers have so impressed the Government in the past it might sway future opportunities the same way. Did you know that some large casinos operators in the U.S. have already hired lobbyists to present their case for inclusion in our Government plans for the future casinos to be built? Remember tax-free management fees going south.

Can you picture our Government's negotiating teams dealing with these US lobbyists for the benefit of Ontario?
Not a fair fight, the lobbyists have so much to offer - and gain. They will be trying to trade a pork chop for a pig.

The senior management team of one Las Vegas casino, as stated in the casino's proxy statement, earned the following income packages last year: the President's earnings were $113 million and the CEO $16.5 million. Do we want Canadian casino operating to add to that?

Understandably, invasion and management of Ontario's casinos would be an important accomplishment for this 'private sector.' Slots at Windsor Raceway were closed seven weeks after the OLG's decision to "make it easier for Windsorites to get to a casino (versus driving to a racetrack) and enjoy the benefits and convenience." That, I guess, is why there is a faux pas concern about the addiction of gambling; it seems ow government regards fall-out from gambling addiction as an enjoyment and benefit.

Visit Atlantic City sometime and see the people there on the streets enjoying the benefits - and just picture it - Ontario could have 29 scenes like this. Great vision for our province!

The spectre of potentially 60,000 Ontarians being forced out of work doesn't concern our Government as much as possible increases in tax revenue by opening more casinos for imported private sector management teams.

It always makes me feel uncomfortable when the President and CEO of the OLG, Rod Phillips, can make a statement like, "At the end of the day the OLG's role is to run gambling and lottery and the decision by the Government of where the money goes is a decision by the Government."

After discussing our situation a friend of mine said, "Ramrod Duncan strikes again!"

Do you want to live in a northern spin-off of Atlantic City or Las Vegas? Do you want to see over 30,000 horses slaughtered along with the successful Slots-at-Racetracks program which generates over $1.1 billion annually to our province? Talk to your local MPP and ask this question. Why, ten years ago, did Government parties make a contract to benefit communities, the horse industry and a reasonable number of casino operators as opposed to now - as Liberal parties now choose to benefit foreign casino operators and Government coffers with a story of a future balanced budget based on gambling proceeds.

The Crown corporation OLG's stated earlier, plan was to build 29 casinos throughout Ontario. These would eventually bring in $1.3 Billion for Provincial coffers.

The current slots at the races program brings in $1.1 Billion, why cancel?

Is there a hidden agenda?

If 64% of OLG's current revenue comes from slots at the racetracks program and a large majority of race tracks involved will be without the slots at the racetracks program a year from now, where is the shortfall going to come from?

Possibly some casino contracts have already been let and will be ready to go in a year. If not, a $1.1 Billion shortfall is critical. Maybe not.

If the Government was willing to shed some light it would help.

Why do I feel like I'm in Denmark or Mexico?

Have the inmates taken over?

Someone should start to ask questions and get answers before the black hole of Liberal deficits gets beyond control.

Ed James
A concerned citizen, who happens to be a horse owner. Stay tuned.

May 17, 2012 - 12:30 pmAs a fan of thoroughbred and

Jim Brown SAID...

As a fan of thoroughbred and harness racing, I do not want any more closings of racetracks. The closure of the smaller race tracks (B tracks) especially as this is were some of the great horses get their starts to develop. Thank you to Mr.James for the insightful information on finances. I am sure most Ontario and country wide citizens have no clue (I didn't) of who is owning casinos and how much of our money is going state side. My god! Where is the news coverage for these shocking facts? With so many jobs being lost, I totally agree with other comments that if it were labelled as atuo or steel closures the public pressure would have made the outcome much different. With Canadian horses doing so well right now and focusing the spotlight on us (such as Sand Pail, and I'll Have Another ect.) racing fans are on their feet, the government should be on their feet and digging in their pockets and "Up The Credit" in full support of this industry. How big was it for Canada that the horse that won the Kentucky Derby was Canadian owned? Just as big as Mike Weir winning the Masters in my opinion. Now we have the upcoming Preakness race to be followed by the Belmont inwhich this CANADIAN owned horse is a huge factor, uplifting spirits for all Canadian fans. Isn't it ironic that the owners' hometown is losing its racetrack, especially when his horse is a possible Triple Crown winner. Go get them Mario!

May 15, 2012 - 8:32 pmMR JAMES YOU ARE A ASSET TO

MR JAMES YOU ARE A ASSET TO HORSE RACING GREAT AD THANKS

May 15, 2012 - 6:32 pmThank you, Mr. James, for

Adam Mauntah SAID...

Thank you, Mr. James, for making this bold move and expressing what a lot of people in the industry are thinking. This is the kind of leadership the sport needs. Well done!

The people who make this sport happen, and all of us who support it, must continue the fight to save the slots program in Ontario. Yet another jurisdiction has just seen its slot revenues held hostage this week: Racing regulators in New York State are seeking to withhold slot profits from the New York Racing Association to show their disapproval with NYRA. To say that NYRA has had governance issues lately is stating the obvious, but this latest move shows how easily this vital source of funding can be withheld for political or other reasons, even south of the border. Here is the link to that article on the web site of the Daily Racing Form:

http://www.drf.com/news/aqueduct-new-york-moves-stop-casino-payments-nyra

May 15, 2012 - 9:49 amI watch TVG & hrtv every day

I watch TVG & hrtv every day down in the States,they seem to sweep the issue under the rug,they even said, why are these Canadian jocks & drivers down in the states, when were doing so well at woodbine? When they said that I thought DUH,they must know? I would think they could make some media contribution. GOOD LUCK up there! Better fight fast & hard = whole lots at stake

May 15, 2012 - 9:17 amWhen I read this letter

Lynne Magee SAID...

When I read this letter yesterday at noon, I was so thankful that someone had taken it upon themselves to tell the truth to the people of Ontario. Thank you, Mr. James. It must have cost a small fortune to take out an entire page. The point made regarding the 1.3 billion dollars that the OLG hopes to bring into the government coffers as compared to the 1.1 billion that is already a given is particularly interesting. It does not even take into consideration the other part of the equation----the 2 billion plus that goes into the economy out of the racing industry as they go about the business of breeding, training and racing horses. Mr. James asks "If 64% of OLG's current revenue comes from slots at the racetracks program and a large majority of racetracks involved will be without the slots at the racetracks program a year from now, where is the shortfall going to come from?". Where, indeed?
Great responses so far. I hope everyone is forwarding them to The Star as well where the people of Ontario can read them. We can't keep talking to ourselves. Mr. James has taken the bull by the horns and put the story out there for the citizens of Ontario to judge. They are going to be affected as well and need to know the facts.

May 15, 2012 - 7:42 amThanks Ed for stepping up

Greg Perry SAID...

Thanks Ed for stepping up for this industry we all love. We should be helping by getting Ed's ad into all the major papers in Ontario. We need O.H.R.I.A , O.H.H.A., C.O.S.A., W.E.G. Western Fair, Great Canadian Gaming and all the other tracks and organizations to come together to take what Ed has started and run with it. Lets get more full page ads filled with the facts out to the public or before we know it ,it will be too late.
Thanks again Ed.

May 15, 2012 - 1:41 amMany thanks to Mr. James for

Many thanks to Mr. James for this. Perhaps this ad will go a long way to getting more ontarians involved. They need to have this kind of information in order to understand the misguided economic direction of this government. Most people still think that their hard earned tax dollars are going to support the horse racing industry. This totally due to Mr. D. Duncan's deliberate misrepresentation of the slots at racetracks program as a "subsidy". Perhaps more informative and thought provoking ads like this one will help the general public separate fact from fiction.

Also, I think it is time for the Racetracks to get together to produce their own media campaign. The tracks need to express their position in all of this now that they know there will be no revenue from the slots for them either. I don't think the amount of money earned from renting space to OLG in the future will cut it!!
Woodbine has already announced that it may not survive if a casino is built in Toronto. Time for all in the industry to unite to try and stop this Liberal government's dismantling of the horse racing and breeding industry in Ontario.

May 15, 2012 - 12:00 amYour letter has boosted

Karen Duck SAID...

Your letter has boosted moral 100 per cent among the horsemen and women of Ontario by tonite.You have touched on so many points that we deserve answers to - virtually no alarm STILL at 60,000+ families lives being turned upside down that may well end with huge numbers of these hard working folks losing their businesses and homes, and becoming Welfare cases; 30,000+ Racing horses each week across this Province that will have no purpose if this isn't turned around plus all the others at home on the farms, the fallout from these scenarios will put many of us over the edge emotionally. Gee, guess we'll be needing a lot of those HEALTHCARE dollars spent on us Mr. Duncan. Our World Class Breeding Industry being destroyed day by day as our most coveted Broodmares and their Foals wait in jeopardy while our Industry continues to be relentlessly attacked by these two Dictators; absolutely NO OUTCRY from Racetrack Owners at this point - WHY NOT??? etc., etc. We must talk to and teach every person we can about our situation each and EVERY day and ask for their help to save our Industry.(That adds up to mega conversations about Harness Racing!) I am sending your letter to every contact I can think of starting tonite. God Bless you for caring enough to write this enlightening letter and present it this way; one hell of an idea! Thank you.

May 14, 2012 - 11:47 pmThank you Ed James for

Thank you Ed James for giving a clear account of the actions of the current Liberal goverment. Intrestingly Paul Godfrey head of the OLG is in a conflict of interest situation as he is head of the company which owns the National Post newspaper.An article on Ontario gaming in today's paper didn't mention the cancellation of the slots at racetracks program and was basically propaganda for the OLG. Rod Phillips having just had a meeting with the editorial board of the National Post.The big pitfall for the OLG will be when the revenue figures come in, they will do their best to hid them, but the shortfall will just be to big to hide,exit Godfrey and Phillips

May 14, 2012 - 11:45 pmPaul Godfrey, chair of the

Tara Benson SAID...

Paul Godfrey, chair of the OLG is lobbying the Toronto council to pass the plan for the waterfront casino in Toronto. The conservative member Monte McNaughton has a bill presently going through the process of becoming law that referendums must be held in jurisdictions where the government wants to build casinos. Thank you Mr. James for your letter to the people of Ontario. I hope everyone reads it and becomes aware of the corruption that exists between this liberal government and the OLG.

May 14, 2012 - 10:28 pmBravo Mr. James!

Bravo Mr. James!

May 14, 2012 - 9:57 pmThank you Mr. James. This

Thank you Mr. James. This was well said and well presented. I am an equestrian rider and I know our sport will also be affect in a round-a-bout way. I am not sure what Messieur McGuinty and his side-kick Duncan are thinking. These two don't make any sense. Keep going don't stop. I think the SB and TB societies should organize a rally and go to Queen's Park to voice our concerns and have this stopped.

May 14, 2012 - 9:46 pmHere is what has happened to

Norman Hall SAID...

Here is what has happened to date.

OLG, as a result of the money losing existing casinos that are weighing heavily on their bottom line, has approached the Casino companies for a reduction in their management fees - 40% of gross revenue. They come up with a counter offer. You build megacasinos in your big urban centres, Toronto and Ottawa, as well as as many other small ones you can fit in around the province and we will guarantee that your revenue from Gambling will double in the next five years to at least 2.5 billion per year.

But there is a catch - you have to get rid of the competition (aka Slots at Racetracks) starting with the ones that are closest to our own interests in states bordering on Ontario - namely Windsor, Fort Erie and Sarnia. You can tell your folks you are doing it to protect jobs at your own border casinos.

The Liberals know they cant get away with doing the deed without some authourative backing so they get Drummond to do an omnibus report that will take specific note of the Slots program. In his eagerness to please the casino companies Duncan jumps the gun and announces that the Slots program is in jeopardy. The Drummond report comes out and there is no such recommendation, just one to review the program to determine if it is good value for money. The Liberals have noo time to review - they are being pressed by the US Casino consortium to move quickly. Without prior consultation with their partners in the Slots program announcements are quickly made sealing the fate of the border slots as secretly planned and the rest are left waiting for the other shoe to drop. Track closures and business failures in the racing industry are imminent.

So lets do the math based on the very real possibility that the Liberals have already made their deal with the devil (aka the US casino companies)and no doubt also taken care of their golden parachutes should they get booted from office in the next election as is becoming increasingly likely.

Casino Companies guarantee $2.5 billion
Casino management costs at 40% - Minus $1 billion (goes to USA)
Slots close - Minus 1.3 billion in lost revenue
Industry dies, no more PST - Minus 300 million
30,000 welfare cases for two years at $20,000 - Minus 1.2 billion, the other 30,000 leave the province or perhaps are retrainable at a cost of another 200 million.

Total annual gain to the government coffers - Minus 1.5 billion

Wow Dumkin and Mcguilty - where did you learn your math?
And the NDP obviously can't count either. Perhaps a little grease has been spread under their table too.

May 14, 2012 - 9:38 pmMr James did what should

Mr James did what should have been done by racetracks and racing oprganizations a long time ago, my hats off to him. On a footnote much like Chris Bush has stated, I cannot for the life of me figure out why some of this industries vast resources were not used for a TV campaign long before the budget was voted on. Maybe now is the time to hire a crew to begin and film real commercials telling the public whats really going on here and the damamge that the Liberals are about to do to not only this industy, but to the whole Province of Ontario.

Gary Blackburn

May 14, 2012 - 9:31 pmbravo Mr James!

Randy Copley SAID...

bravo Mr James!

May 14, 2012 - 8:20 pmWell Done Ed. I'm sure you

Paul Maguire SAID...

Well Done Ed. I'm sure you have created more awareness of fact and not fiction.

May 14, 2012 - 8:07 pmThank you Mr. James for your

karen pappin SAID...

Thank you Mr. James for your leadership and hard earned money spent representing what is an unbelieveable abuse of power by a government. More people need to step forward and follow his lead.
This government needs to be held accountable and if the court of public opinion via the media is the route then lets keep on telling the story to Ontariarians.

May 14, 2012 - 8:02 pmNow tell me, why haven't the

chris bush SAID...

Now tell me, why haven't the racetracks formed a similiar cohesive factual media attack on the liberal government? Isn't it extremely odd that an owner would bare the burden and expense? Wouldn't it be more effective for the tracks to use their resources and influence to battle this nonsense? Racetracks where are you? The silence has been deafening and pathetic.

May 14, 2012 - 6:57 pmGreat job Mr James. this is

John Hill SAID...

Great job Mr James. this is exactly what is needed at this point. The general public knows only what McGuinty and Duncan tells them, before they twisted the truth now they are telling outright lies.Mr James asks is there a hidden agenda, well if there isn't this is possibly the most incompetent government in history, and if there is, one of most corupt. What I don't get is why we get no press coverage. 60,000 jobs are in jeopardy yet we get no mention in the media, why ? If the auto or steel industry were to lay off a few hundred people its all over the media. Does the public know what is at stake? Why aren't the PC and NDP raising these points? Have we been sold out by them also?

May 14, 2012 - 6:46 pmA class act Mr. James. Your

A class act Mr. James. Your dedication as an owner to this industry, as a businessman and as a concerned Ontarian holds true value to the issues and insight you've raised. The smoke is lifting and I hope that Ontarians, even those outside of the horse racing industry, recognize the path that the Liberal government is taking and their true agenda revealed.

May 14, 2012 - 6:23 pmMr. James has some very

Paul Gangle SAID...

Mr. James has some very valid arguments as well as some very pertinent questions that demand some straight forward answers. It almost makes me wonder if these casino management companies have deposited millions of dollars into a Swiss bank account for some very prominent politicians.... some food for thought.

May 14, 2012 - 6:20 pmBravo Mr. James for a very

Chuck Ibey SAID...

Bravo Mr. James for a very well presented letter to the public. It's about time someone has stepped forward and presented a very easily accessed letter. This letter simply puts the facts in front of people to see and read. Hopefully more of this will occur; without it coming at the expense of individual owners.
The obvious statement from WEG today that it would close without the slots should soon wake someone up. I hope!!!!!!

May 14, 2012 - 5:26 pmThis is great Ed. Well done!

Jack Darling SAID...

This is great Ed. Well done! This govt is treating our industry as if they are a dictatorship. They are also treating the 60,000 plus human beings that are involved in horse racing as if they don`t matter and are expendable, for political purposes. It`s hard to believe that the people that were elected to serve and protect its constituents would throw us under the bus like this without a shred of compassion. This article clarifies all of the economic reasons for saving the racing industry and the slots at racetracks program. This govt should realize that you need a robust, active economy, with people working and paying taxes to pay down the debt. We have to keep making our economic case as illustrated in this article. Ed, you have done the industry a great service by placing this in the newspaper. Hopefully it will influence the readers and govt officials. This will serve as a rallying cry for the rest of us in horse racing.

May 14, 2012 - 4:59 pmCongratulations Mr.James on

Congratulations Mr.James on this awesome initiative.I hope the Premier and the Minister of Finance and the CEO of the OLG have time in their incredibly busy schedules to read every word.I personally delivered a copy to my MPP who happens to be Liberal and hope he takes a moment to absorb the damage his governement has created.

May 14, 2012 - 4:45 pmThank you Mr. JAMES, for

Thank you Mr. JAMES, for both our concerns, I agree 100% that some high placed people will be filling their pockets at the expense of the horse people and all involved and also at the expense the TAX PAYERS.


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