While the interview was taped just hours prior to Thursday's bombshell announcement that Paul Godfrey had been fired as the Chair of the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation, the discussion between host Norm Borg and John Snobelen is just as relevant. In fact, the argument could be made that horse racing's chances to access different revenue streams within a re-integration plan with the OLG as outlined by the OMAFRA Panel and mandated by the Premier are now better than ever.
Last Monday, the news broke that Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne asked what's commonly referred to as The OMAFRA Panel - Elmer Buchanan, John Snobelen and John Wilkinson - to create a long-term plan for re-integrating horse racing with the province's gaming operator.
"We're delighted that over the last couple of months the Premier has shown the kind of support and really the depth of knowledge she's shown about the importance of live racing in Ontario," said Snobelen to Trot Radio's Norm Borg. "We recommended that the industry needed to be re-integrated with the gaming strategy. That just makes sense. There's a lot of things we can do together with OLG and the other gaming products in marketing, in distribution and all the ways most horsemen would know."
The distribution network, according to Snobelen, is one of key areas for racing. Given the amount of locations where lottery products are currently sold, the opportunity to expand racing to those outlets is tremendous.
"The opportunity for people to know about horse racing and to wager on horse racing in more locations across the province can only help us build interest in our sport and the amount of participation we have in people and gaming both on and off the track," stated Snobelen. "We're intrigued by the opportunity to take some of the more sophisticated wagers in the province and provide them with a better product. Over the course of the next month, we're going to be looking at all of those alternatives."
Both Borg and Snobelen agree that racing holds an edge over a straight number-picking lottery insomuch that people can cheer, back and support their selections.
"We've got the only gaming opportunity in the world that has a heart in it. For anyone who knows anything about horses and understands the grace of horse racing, it's all about that will to win and the heart of the horse, and there's nothing that can replace the excitement of that. So I think the more we can expose people to the best part of our sport, the better off we'll all be."
In October, the OMAFRA Panel called the current lottery landscape "crowded," so how does a racing product fit into that offering without simply being just another game?
"Gaming faces some rationalization in the overall marketplace." Snobelen said, reiterating that the Panel feels racing has the advantage of heart and competition plus what he referred to as "fatigue" from conventional gaming products.
"We really think the more we look at racing, the better the fit will be with the other gaming products in Ontario."
To listen to the full interview, including Snobelen's thoughts on a sports-racing betting product, historical racing, and the time frame for the initial report to be delivered to the Premier, click the play button below.
Trot Radio - Episode 294 - John Snobelen
Audio Format: MP3 audio
Host: Norm Borg