Burgess Report To OMAFRA Available

Published: July 26, 2012 11:59 am EDT

Earlier this month, prominent standardbred participants Bob and Blair Burgess started working on their own proposal on the future of Ontario's horse racing industry. That plan was submitted and presented to the OMAFRA panel on Wednesday and is now available for public viewing.

While the report submitted to OMAFRA praised the work of the OHRIA board, one thing Burgess would like to make clear is that he did not see the OHRIA Task Force report before drafting his brief.

"We do not support the OHRIA report as it's not based on a continuation of the slots-at-racetracks program," said Burgess.

Burgess told Trot Insider that both he and Blair "were very pleased with the reception" they received from the OMAFRA panel, which is expected to make an announcement at the end of August.

The two key differences between the Burgess plan deal with how the horse racing industry is funded and the amount of racing opportunities. Burgess feels very strongly that the racing industry retain its partnership with the Ontario government in some form to be included with its land-based gaming strategy.

To read the report, click here to view the PDF or read the report embedded below.



I think this is a very good plan for us. If the govt. will accept it we should be in pretty good shape. Blair and Bob make some very good points here.

There are many valuable and justifiable positions in both the Burgess Report and OHRIA’s Sadinsky report. Both parties deserve much praise for the efforts put into these reports

While there is a stark difference between the reports, the clear reason for the varied opinions is that each report was written based on different assumptions.

The Burgess report (which obviously all of us would prefer) is based on the assumption that the Government can still be shown the error of their ways, and will change their stated position.

The Sadinsky report (which attempts to salvage parts of the industry) is based on the assumption that the Government will hold true to their word and eliminate the SAR program.

If there is any chance winning with the Burgess model, one of three things (ideally all three) needs to happen.
a) OMAFRA task force recommends keeping the SAR program
b) Ombudsman finds cause to recommend legislative hearings
c) Liberals DO NOT WIN Kitchener-Waterloo by-election

I would suggest everyone needs to fight like hell to make one (or all) of these issues come to fruition.

If the stars do not align and/or the Liberals get a majority because of the by-election, I believe the industry will need to give strong consideration to the OHRIA plan and move forward a united force.

To those who think 30% would survive after all the noted changes need to realize no one tier system can be financially sustainable for the individuals involved. Where is the market for the horses that do not fit into the 30%? How many foals would be produced and end up with no future of any kind. I would think any successful breeder /owner would recognize the need for a market for those who are not as they often say "stakes caliber". It is like your local feed mill carrying one brand of feed and one supplement. While I agree there is too much product currently in the province, I hope the industry will make the changes it needs instead of letting the government decimate the sport. There needs to be true leadership and supporters of a plan. This seems to be the most well thought out and feasible one yet offered.

OK... let's put things into perspective. This gov't understands one thing and one thing only...... that's $$$$$$. They are so cash strapped that they will resort to any measure in their attempt to solve their deficit problem caused by their own fiscal mismanagement. Murray Brown is right.... we have to fight for what we now have... no more...no less. Here are some ways that we can do it.

Firstly, we have to lodge a substantial class action suit in the courts to get their attention. If this is going to cost the OLG billions, I'm sure that they are going to come to the table. This proved successful with the doctors and OMA.

Secondly, we organize a barracade with trucks and trailers around the slot parlours at the respective tracks. No one gets in. If there is no revenue coming in and the OLG expenses continue as before, something has to give.

Thirdly, when Queens Park reconvenes in the fall, we quarantine them as well, until we get a response or some kind of commitment from this corrupt Liberal gov't. The reason why we can't get a plausible response from this gov't so far, is because the deal has ALREADY been made with the US casino operators, thanks to Mr. Godfrey and if the gov't reneges, it will face huge law suits from them for breach of contract. How else did Ceasar's get a $170 million loan from OLG.

We can't just sit back and watch this gov't take away our livelihoods. We can beat our heads against the wall forever but until we take drastic action, nothing will happen, other than we'll all end up on the welfare line. Mr. Burgess is a lawyer and I'm sure he can guide us in the legal direction that we need to go. ORHIA caved because they were told that under no circumstances would there be a revenue sharing agreement with the horse people. (as it is not in the contract with the US casino operators) The only other way to save horse racing in Ontario is to defeat this gov't before Mar. 31/13. If anyone has any further suggestions, then bring them on.

In reply to by P J Gangle

Paul : only way is for mr.HUDAK to make a motion of non confidence..P.S.they are already solicitation for the p.c. Party for their candidate in KITCHENER-WATERLOO ...they agreed to meet me at the BATTLE OF WATERLOO .HE SAID WE WILL SEE YOU AT THE RACE TRACK IN ELMIRA? What does that tell you? Tk

In reply to by P J Gangle

it wasn't Murray Brown who said fight for what we have now it was Ken Hayward.Paul I think you might be one of the few who get it.People really need to understand whats going on here.Horseman need to do something drastic so you can get all info out in Mainstream.This hasn't happened yet.When the people of Ontario realize how crooked this deal is with Tannenabaum and the US Caisno(OLG) they will respond.Until now they have nothing to respond to.You need to shutdown 401 and then people will listen.Until the horseman get that sick ,scared feeling in the pit of there stomache they will do nothing.I can't believe all the people who are in complete LA LA LAND with this isue.Its been 4 months and nobody has done anything constructive to stop this.You are all going to hell in a hand basket.
Where is all your leadership? This is pitiful!!

We now have two plans presented one to the Liberal government another to a commitee who will take it and do with it what they want. The standarbred industry loves the Burgess plan because it looks much closer to the present program and says alot of the things that we believe to be true. Every member of the Ohria board I am sure agrees that getting the Liberals to rethink their decision and keep the industry as is would be a wonderful accomplishment but they also know that presenting a plan to the Liberals that has no chance of being approved would be selling the industry short. One of the oldest political games is to tell your constituents exactly what they want to hear even though you know you have no chance of accomplishing it. I applaud Ohria for having the guts to put forward something that they fully knew would be seen as a sell out by some but at least would have a chance to keep this industry vibrant enough to allow it to rebuild when the political winds change. If you totally disagree with everything I said then stop posting comments on this website , get in your truck and trailer call all your friends and arrange to meet in front of Casino Rama and let the Liberals know that you mean business.

P.s Make sure you tell your family where you hid the bail money because you might be needing it.

After much speculation, we now have two plans presented on our behalf to the government appointed panel on racing and the authors of each are to be commended for their dedication and hard work. Both plans agree that horse racing cannot go forward without financial support but the similarity ends there.

We have the OHRIA plan which would have government support us with the right hand (subsidies). They have the ear of government and their plan will likely be given serious consideration. Sadly, it appears only 30% of us will still be in business when the dust settles while the other 70% will be sacrificed.

And we have the Burgess plan which would have us receive funding from the left hand (slots). The strength of this plan is that it would allow most of us to continue doing what we love - work with our horses. But how do we get government to give this plan serious consideration?

I believe strongly that 70% of the business should not be sacrificed so that the remaining 30% can survive. We are all in this together and we should sink or swim together. The Burgess plan is the far superior plan and is the plan that should be endorsed by all of us.

If OHRIA truly represents ALL the horse people of Ontario then I call on them to withdraw their plan and throw their support behind the Burgess plan.

Further, I call on the thousands of other rural horsemen and women to publicly demand that OHRIA support the Peoples' Plan.

Perhaps we have found the leadership we have so desperately been seeking. Thank you Robert and Blair. May the next Hambletonian be yours.

Thank you Bob and Blair. This is a solution that presents itself as a way for the government to get out of the mess they have created. It shows there is a way to make this work and as Hiram Walker calls it a "win,win" for both parties. This is a plan that can be supported and unlike all the previous proposals it does not require a huge sacrifice by the horsepeople of Ontario. The marriage of Horse Racing and Slots many years ago was thought to be a definate blow to racing as we knew it. It is through the diversity and perseverence of the people within this industry it has become such a success. We should look at this in the same light and use the talent of the people we have in our industry to create a mutually respectful solution. A tip of the hat to the Burgess family in the forethought that huge sacrifice is not required to continue the success. OHRIA has continually offered a program to government in representation of the Ontario Horse People that requires a dramatic change to the way we do business, and requires a tremendous sacrifice. This briefing outlines a plan that is simple, a model of the existing SUCCESSFUL programs, and to model after businesses already successful. Thank you for putting to paper what many of us have had on our minds since the announcement, thank you for shedding a least a little light at the end of the tunnel, and also thank you for pegging August 31, 2012 as deadline resolution. It seems the rest of the proposals mark March 2013 as the deadline and we all know that by then, the damage will be done and we will have no leverage.

Thank you for putting this proposal out there. I believe you are absolutely correct that the racing industry needs to continue to share revenues from slot machines at the racetracks if racing/breeding is to survive in the future. The rational for sharing these monies is really no different today than when the SAR program started. The government agreed to share with the tracks and horse people because of the negative impact on the parimutual handles. That still exists today. This is a very well thought out and reasonable proposal that should get overwhelming support from the majority of the racing industry.

Great proposal.
Congratulations to both, Bob and Blair Burgess, for an excellent proposal. I have been following the whole development of the Government/OLC gaming strategy from the outset, obviously with great outrage and misbelieve of what they are doing to the horse racing industry. I personally hope the whole industry is in complete agreement with your detailed and logical presentation. A signed petition as suggested by Chris Bush could be the answer, you have my vote.
The big question is however: How do we get this to the public in order to generate some pressure?
How to we make the public aware that some of ther hard earned dollars (Ontario taxpayers Money) will end up in American owned casino operators hands? This alone should should get enough news coverage, but I wonder why is hasn't. Reading the OHRIA proposal, I thought that they had already capitulated. Do they know that the train has left the station already?
What can be done to wake the public up? Close the 401 from Mohawk to Woodbine and have every horseman use every available horse and jogger
to walk the distanz and hold up traffic for 3 hours. That would make the news. I believe the news media is the key, since most people I engage in a discussion about the new gaming strategy of the Liberal Government have not heard about it yet.
If there is anything I can do, please let me know.

This plan works only if SAR or some form of it is in place. Good luck getting the program back.

This is a wonderful, well thought out and well documented presentation. The most important question remains: How do we get the people who wield the power to study and subscribe to its contents?

In reply to by murray

Murray Brown you are 100% right.This is a tremendous effort by Blair and his Father.The best plan I have seen anyone put forward.But what Mr.Brown is saying,is who is listening ?The plan we have now is the one we should be fighting for.There are "OTHER UNDERLYING" issues here,"LARRY TANENBAUMS" how do you overcome this GUY?The Liberals have already made "STRONG" deals with this LIBERAL FUND RAISER.There is more to this than the Liberals want revealed.Mr.james newspaper article strikes some strong points.Once you really realize your dealing with people who first of all DONT WANT TO LISTEN and also they are "NOT DEALING IN GOOD FAITH".It dosn't matter what plan you put in front of people like this.The plan we have NOW is working for all parties.ITS NOT THE PLAN.Its this CORUPT Liberal Government that is the issue.There selling all horseman and there families out for the big US casino's.Unless you horseman do something DRASTIC your all going down with the ship.You need to fight for what you NOW have !!!!GIVE THEM NOTHING !!KEEP WHAT YOU HAVE!!WHY SETTLE FOR ANYTHING LESS ?IF THE PLAN WE NOW HAVE IS SO BAD WHY ARE ALL THE US STATES USEING IT AS A MODEL? IT'S NOT THE PLAN GUY'S !!

Great job Blair and Robert I think this proposal is as precise and useful as the Sadinky report was in 2008 but unfortunately I think just as quick as almost all horseman dismissed the Sadinsky report in 2008 I think the Liberals will just as quickly dismiss the concept of revenue sharing with horse racing. Everyone should stop comparing which proposal is better because the only difference between the two proposals is the one single premise. WILL THE LIBERALS ENTERTAIN ANY ARRANGEMENT WITH THE HORSE RACING INDUSTRY THAT INVOLVES REVENUE SHARING. The Burgess proposal assumes yes and I hope they are correct . The Ohria proposal assumes no and if the answer is no I suggest we dont throw out the OHRIA proposal because it might come in handy. Sometimes the difference between a dreamer and a realist is the realist happens to know more of the facts. I for one hopes the dreamers are going to win but my gut tells me the cruel facts as seen by the Liberals are going to draw the line in the sand in the coming weeks.

In reply to by glenn bechtel

This plan is the best idea I've heard yet. The one thing I keep reading is that we should join with the CAW. Yet we already have an association....or is it 3, associations. There is strength in numbers and I would like to think everyone with something to loose, and does not already belong, would quickly join ONE of them. Then maybe if we're all serious about survival we could ask these groups join as one to voice our discontent. Together we stand divided we fall.

In reply to by glenn bechtel

If the Liberals are not willing to entertain an arrangement with the horse racing industry, then everyone is doomed. Let' hope saner heads prevail and they can see the tremendous damage that would result from their original plan (or lack of). Congrats Bob and Blair - great job.

Well done Robert and Blair Burgess!

Horse Racing as an industry must consider itself "at war" with the current provincial government. In this document, you have provided two of the necessary components in winning that war.

Three quotes from The Art of War by Sun Tzu, 600 BC :

  • What is of supreme importance in war is to attack the enemy's strategy.
  • To a surrounded enemy, you must leave a way of escape.
  • It is said that if you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be
    imperilled in a hundred battles.

With regards to the third quote, the government has initiated this war for only one reason: they are in desperate need of money and believe this will lead to greater revenues. Unlike the Teachers and Doctors who are also at war, the Horse Racing industry has the ability to "hit them where it hurts". Stop the money flow, even temporarily, and you will be heard.

Dave Vicary - willing to help wherever I can.

Blair and Bob have produced an excellent report, well written and factually presented. I fully support it.

I don't want to be too critical of OHRIA without giving them a chance to elaborate with detail and rationale the thought process that led to the decisions taken in the plan. If this is the plan you believe in and want a majority of horse people on side, someone in OHRIA better start selling. I'd like to hear from Hugh, Nick,

Congratulations to both Bob and Blair for an excellent proposal and submission. It would be difficult to identify and to recommend anyone else in the industry with the combined knowledge, experience, success and integrity as both Bob and Blair have. I would think that the entire industry, including OHRIA, COSA, OHHA et al would collectively support this proposal.

Just remember one thing. It was the Government who created OHRIA for the horsemen's associations to give us the Slots in the first place, 15 years ago. Do you really think that the Government will deal with anyone other than OHRIA now??????????

Thank you Blair and Mr. Burgess. This presentation is more in line with what was hoped for from OHRIA. You have obviously put a lot of work and heart into this. It speaks for so many of us. The inclusion and expectation of sustainability of ALL viable tracks, horsepeople and horses across Ontario is definitely something that is missing in OHRIA's report. A collaboration between the two with consultations with Senator Runciman, Dennis Mills, Mr. James, etc. would be very beneficial to the industry's battle to save racing. Good on both of you for time and effort.

The industries support should be thrust upon this reasonble proposal not the failed OHRIA model. How do we make it clear to the committte we favor this one? Perhaps a signed petition by all PARTICIPANTS.

Finally, a reasonable proposal that makes sense for the racing industry, government and Ontario taxpayers. Thank you very much to Bob and Blair Burgess for their hard work and congratulations on drafting a common sense paper. This is a proposal that every horse racing participant can get behind and support. Count me as your biggest supporter!

A RACINO model and maintaining the government partnership is/was the ONLY way to go forward. In saying that, yes, guidelines,review markers and industry innovation vacant in the original SAR would need to be implemented going forward as well. Offering up a plan that is essentially halfing the industry will have a crippling effect on rural Ontario, agri-services businesses and employment opportunities. How can a government operating in a deficit terminate one of the most successful private/public partnerships its ever entered into? Or the better question being, why is it being terminated?

It is THE SUITS vs The OVERALLS. This issue can be base on and defended by, the reasonable expectation that the SAR agreement needed to be REINSTATED by the OLG by the direction of the government solely for the purpose of sustaining our agricultural areas, agri-service businesses and the numerous jobs our industry supports. PERIOD.

Excellent report by Mr. Burgess! It is a report that makes sense in each and every facet. It moves the gov't away from gambling management; which it desires and moves the Gaming Industry forward.
My only comment otherwise is that surely the Government will afford us the same "gaming partnership" as Bingo Hall and Casino operators....that is only fair and good governance.

Thanks to Bob and Blair in what you have preposed. Please take it to OHRIA, if they are to speak for the whole industry and I say again IF !

Chuck Ibey

Well this certainly seems better than the OHRIA proposal! At least if the smaller tracks are given the oppurtunity to make it and don`t that is either their fault or the market in that area but it gives a chance for survival if you work for it which is all we can really expect......

This is more like what we have to initiate, in a timely fashion. Great article, however all the players have to come to the table as soon as possible. Surely Premier McGinty realizes the problems his representatives have caused. Surely he realizes the great financial lose the province is going to endure if the SAR programme is abandoned. It appears he thinks the revenue stream is going to continue, and it will not with stand alone operations. Stick with what works. Bruce T. Winning

From past experience with Mr. Robert Burgess, I know him to be a smart man and this plan makes a lot more sense than the Plan of OHRIA's. This plan states clearly what is needed for racing to survive.

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