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NHA Industry Study Released

Published: July 26, 2012 12:57 pm ET

Last Comment: July 26, 2012 4:26 pm ET | 3 Comment(s) | Jump to Comments

The Northern Horsemen's Association has undertaken, completed and announced a report entitled 'Sustaining Horse Racing in Northern Ontario- A Socio-Economic Perspective, City of Greater Sudbury and Area.'

The report has estimated that Sudbury's local horse-racing industry annually contributes $10 million to the local economic community and provides in upwards of 600 jobs.

Dr. Karen Pappin, who undertook the study for the NHA, recently spoke with the CBC during a telephone interview where she explained nature of how the industry aspect of horse racing is essential for both the local community and Ontario's agricultural community overall.

"I think what most people don't recognize is the fact that the [Ontario horse-racing industry] is an integral part of the Ontario Agriculture scene," Dr. Pappin explained during her CBC interview, which can be heard here. "It is a complex organization of interests and interconnected relationships that sustains and grows rural agricultural socio-economics. The [Ontario horse-racing industry] system is not specific to a particular region of the province. It encompasses many areas right across the province; and the larger impact is predicted to be 60,000 job losses across Ontario and many, many millions of dollars lost to rural and agricultural economies."

The conclusion reached from Dr. Pappin's report appears below in its entirety.

Horse racing in Northern Ontario shares and experiences with Southern Ontario the same environment both social and economic. The Northern Horsemen’s Association is a willing participant to engage in best practice scenarios that would lend success to this product, the businesses involved and the people who choose to call Northern Ontario their home.

The recent abdication by the OLG from the Slots-at-Racetrack Program and its current although not fully announced agenda to redesign gambling venues and bingo halls across Ontario with a 'push' toward Downtown Casinos is leaving race track owner/operators and the racing/breeding industry at an incredible crossroad for decision making and future planning. Further, horsemen and horsewomen are and will be the constant ingredient to make the industry work regardless of track ownership or contracted management. Casinos alone will not stand the test of time and the success of a race/gambling venue has already illustrated a proven track record against financially viable stand alone Casino venues.

While the government is entertaining RFIs and RFPs for Casino interest, it is imperative the North, Sudbury, be involved and tied to a partnership for a “RACINO” model concept. Sudbury is well positioned, as the information in this paper demonstrates. Moving forward this model would secure a strong future for the horse-racing industry, job creation and sustainability and be a stabilizing partner for the agriculture sector in Northern Ontario.

The only constant in this change environment is the men and women dedicated to the racing/breeding industry who are committed to create a future for racing with partnerships that are accountable and dedicated to ensure that racing is viewed as a vital complimentary inclusion of any future model for racing and a strategic part of an entertainment/destination package.

It is not only strategic for OHRIA and Ontario Racing but it is also the social and economic responsibility of the Sadinsky Recommendations Report to ORHIA to be inclusive of the Northern Ontario component to support and sustain racing in this jurisdiction. Otherwise, the political, economic and social divisiveness between Northern and Southern Ontario will be highlighted and heated for years to come and dramatically affect the potential for a strong and vibrant racing industry across Ontario.

The Northern Ontario racing industry is no different than its Southern Ontario partners. They are no longer willing to be seen as an isolated part of Ontario racing. The four-laning of highway 400/69 completion is imminent and the role of technology in racing shortens any geographic gap that has historically been used as a reason to see the North as apart from the rest of Ontario.

There are many opportunities at issue here for the expanded growth of rural economics related to agriculture and its horseracing industry partner. These opportunities are not singled out only for Northern Ontario but further expand racing as an all-inclusive Ontario industry with provincial and global recognition and expectations.

Centralizing and downsizing racetrack venues may be a solution in the concentrated geographic areas of Southern Ontario due to proximity of venues. It is not the case, however, for Northern Ontario, specifically Sudbury.

The next appropriate step for consideration would be a dialogue and discussion that the Northern Horsemen’s Association is prepared to have resulting in the growth and expansion of horseracing in Northern Ontario. Innovation such as expanding race dates to nine months, increased racing weekly from the current twice a week schedule to three times weekly, simulcast for live bet thus increasing handle and pari-mutual betting, and re-opening on-site backstretch for stabling thereby attracting new interests/participants in the North with allowance for accommodation should a condensed 'regional' industry model and be implemented across Ontario. On the shared revenue side, discussions should be open to entertain percentages like the Slots-at-Racetracks agreement accruing from expanded Casino gaming along with a newer mandate and accountability process on how the industry is 'all Ontario' marketed and track ownership participates in growth and development.

Our vision is in line with what we believe is a growing consensus of a 'RACINO' model and a package that partners a full-gambling/gaming and entertainment destination for the City of Greater Sudbury and the horseracing industry in Northern Ontario and all of Ontario.

Further, we would anticipate Northern Ontario representation with respect to future restructuring discussions, committees, panels of the industry demonstrating an equal representative role for Northern Ontario with its Southern Ontario partners. This inclusion is the fair and balanced best practice approach to reinvigorating an important industry to the social and economic racing/breeding specific industry and the overall well being for the agriculture sector and related sub sectors in Ontario.

July 26, 2012 - 4:26 pm"Centralizing and downsizing

"Centralizing and downsizing racetrack venues may be a solution in the concentrated geographic areas of Southern Ontario due to proximity of venues. It is not the case, however, for Northern Ontario, specifically Sudbury."

Chuck: I believe the thought process behind this statement is that there is somewhat of an overlapping of regions in southern ontario where tracks are in close proximity and agricultural services businesses are well supported, whereas in northern ontario with one track solely place 3.5 hours from the next closest venue it is the only race entity supporting northern agri-service businesses.

And yes, considering OLG wants multiple "gaming zones", there is no reason why the number of tracks should be decreased if the SAR was reinstated and operated as a RACINO model going forward.

OHRIA needs to review their recommendation. Simply, the government's decision to end the SAR was unacceptable and that was the position we should be working from solely for the purpose of sustaining our agricultural areas, agri-service businesses and the numerous jobs our industry supports.

July 26, 2012 - 3:07 pmGreat telephone interview.

Great telephone interview. Thanks CBC and Dr. Pappin. Wonder how many people actually got to hear it?

July 26, 2012 - 2:12 pmThere is absolutely no reason

Chuck Ibey SAID...

There is absolutely no reason for any track in Ontario to be ommitted from future Gaming Solutions, no matter which breed they support.

Chuck Ibey

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