Brown On Slots At Racetracks Program

Published: July 26, 2016 05:07 pm EDT

Ontario Progressive Conservative Party Leader Patrick Brown has made comments in regard to the former Slots at Racetracks Program. A provincial election is less than two years away, but Brown still took the opportunity to engage the subject this week.

According to an article by the Flamborough Review, Brown’s comments came on Monday, July 25 in Millgrove, Ont. during a Business Roundtable which was hosted by the Flamborough Chamber of Commerce.

The article has cited Brown as saying that ‘he would look at the changes made to the Slots at Racetracks Program.’ He also added that the Ontario PC Party, at the time, was very critical of the Ontario Liberal Party’s decision to terminate the program.

Brown then said that the changes to the industry could be irreversible by 2018.

“But if there is a willingness to turn back the clock on that, then that’s something I’m willing to absolutely look at,” Brown was quoted as saying. “I thought it was a short-sighted decision at the time.”

Brown touched on other topics, as well, including investment in infrastructure, energy costs, red-tape issues, and steering youth in the right direct (in regard to education). He also discussed plans to double the size of the Greenbelt, which could directly affect the cost of new-build homes, due to restrictions.

“If you double the size of the Greenbelt, it will only shrink supply even further,” Brown was quoted as saying. “I would have flexibility to work with municipalities on the definitions of where, but I would be hesitant to major expansions.”

(With files from the Flamborough Review)



I have raced against Marty Adler and have a great deal of respect for him both for his observations and his courage to speak truth to power. That said sadly in this case I must agree with Will Yamakva with regards to the lack of any new benefits to the "racing fans/betters". I also agree with Chris Bush since the "facts" are clear regarding the Millions that facility has lost trying to keep harness Racing alive. Mr Joe Riga myself and countless others have stated the takeout must get below 10% which would still make harness racing at least 100% more expensive as a wagering proposition to legal sports betting options. I finally have given up any hope for that since frankly the cost to bring the product(Harness Racing) to the eagerness market is and always will be too high for that to be possible. The only hope I can see is to promote the Premier races( Little Brown Jug, Canadian pacing Derby, The Adios etc.) to attract and keep fan interest and create a two way betting option, with as low a takeout as possible which any fan experienced or not could quickly comprehend and could lead to increased betting handles at all tracks.

To say the meadowlands is thriving is to have ones head buried in the sand. They are thriving compared to what. There handle is about 50 to 60% of what it used to be 20 to 30 years ago. They are down to racing 2 nights a week and there product for the most part is enough to bring a tear to your eye when you look at a race program because there product is garbage compared to what it used to be. The driving colony is also a shadow of what it used to be. Hardly my idea of a track that is booming.

It is getting late in the game to try and continue to be positive about harness racing, for a lot of us.

Lynne is right about "words"; but when Dave Brister was running for PC in the Essex riding, I put him on camera and documented his promises re: racing. He didn't get in.

Will likes to gamble, and so do I, but I think he will agree, we need to get bang for the buck. You don't get that with small-town handles.
The small towns - Clinton, Hanover, Dresden etc - provide great entertainment for rural communities, and a "farm-team" for up and coming racers. These towns are not gambler friendly, and purses should be reflected as such.

The current slots earnings are not tied to individual tracks, but some OLG formula that provides subsidies. Can you imagine what the average taxpayer thinks of that?

The previous slots program brought traffic and gamblers, and filled the government coffers to apply to education and healthcare. It would do the same again, and this time, I hope we would have learnt from our mistakes!

Marty Adler

Will... the Meadowlands, in spite of doing many of the things the internet arm chair experts suggest, still loses millions of dollars a year. How do you consider that thriving? It would be next to impossible for them to survive in the long run without expanded gaming. That's a fact. Facts are something that have always eluded your perspective.

In reply to by chris bush

You really believe that, Mr Bush? If you consider the investment they have put into the facility, you are right, they are not turning a profit, as they invested HUGE money in that new grandstand. However, the handle they get each night, is paying for the racing on a nightly basis. They are at least getting the racing paid for. While they might not be paying back on the $100 million dollar grandstand as fast as they like, they are able to cover the purses with the wagering.

he took the loss, to get where he is now, and this is from this year.

"Comparing the 23 nights of racing in 2016 to the same 23 nights in 2015, The Meadowlands posted a 12 percent increase in live handle through the first quarter of the year, a total increase of more than $7.7 million. The numbers were especially strong for the eight nights of racing in March with handle increasing more than $2 million compared to the same eight dates in 2015 despite five fewer races this year"


Show me a track in Ontario that has gained that kind of percentage. If you think the change will happen overnight, then you are mistaken, and I guess going to continue to want money from a source that does nothing to make the game stronger.

Mr Gural did not go at this alone. He had to have the co-operation of the horseman, and the government to lead the way to this increase. Who is the leader in Ontario? No one. The tracks are okay making what they do, the government does not have to keep your sport alive anymore, and the horseman are not really doing much to get anyone with any real vision to lead the way.

Me as a gambler? Im fine, thanks for asking. I have not bet on a harness race in Ontario for almost a year now (save when I took my GF to woodbine in Feb), as for the most part, I can make bigger bets, in bigger pools elsewhere.

Western Fair will be the only place seeing my money this year, and maybe Mohawk if nothing else is on.

You can cite these "facts", but what you are not using, is your vision, the vision needed to see the future. Mr Gural has one.... and is going to make lots of money over the next few years, because he had a long term plan, that had some rough patches, that would eventually pan out. What plans does ontario have?

This is not an over night fix. Bringing the slots back, wont fix racing.

In reply to by chris bush

Mr Bush
Are you the accountant for theMeadowlands? How can you say the track loses millions every year. Mr Gural owns multiple tracks, some with slots and my bet is they all make money. He wouldn't still be in business if they didn't. He's done many things to promote his venue and get people into his facility. What have any Ontario tracks done to garner new blood?

Marty, in the past 2 years, I have been to 6 racetracks. 4 had slots, and 2 did not.

Can you explain to me please how slots at the tracks benefits us the gambler?

1) I paid for a program at all the tracks, so I did not benefit there. I can print most harness programs for free online.
2) I got in for free at one of the tracks that did not have slots, the other was a nominal fee, and not much. I got in free at all tracks with slots. So if slots saved me a whole $3 bucks, that was not really anything to go crazy for.
3) I never entered the slot parlor at any of the tracks, so what happened in there, was no benefit to me.
4) Not one person that worked at the track or was a representative of the horse community was in the slots before or after the race to sign autographs, for a meet and greet, nothing. The slots had nothing to do with horse racing, just as horse racing had nothing to do with the slots.
5) The purses at the tracks without slots, was equal to those of that class, that had slots. The handles were comparable.

Let's not try to fool the race fans, and act like slots at the tracks benefits the race fan/gambler.

I get the impression you see how the Meadowlands manages to survive without slots, and ignore what they have done to get them in a position to thrive without them, and ignore it and just want to go back to getting easy money from something that has NOTHING to do with harness racing.

How about giving the government something to work with,(and that is where horseman and track owners and people that write the conditions for your races need to figure it out) before you go back with the exact same business plan that they walked away from?

If you had all the chips and walked away from investing heavy in someone that has a bad business plan, why would you approve the idea again later, if they return with the same business plan?

Must be gearing up the next election. Words, words and more words. Talk is cheap.

It's not like you Marty to be so easy on the liberals. As for SARP being the only alternative I'm not so sure I agree. No one in the industry, including the track owners did anything to promote or offer ways of improving the product when the SAR program was in affect. Everyone just got fat and happy on the big purse money because of the slot revenues. No one has really done anything since the program was cancelled but lay blame. Would just be more of the same if the program came back. No leadership within the industry. No focus. No accountability. Just people taking for granted the good purse structure.

Talk is cheap it takes money to buy whiskey. Hudak said lots as well but changed nothing with regards to the SAR program. Brown is telling people what they want to hear.

Pat Brown provides a glimmer of hope for racing.

Some points:
1. There has never been a better plan for racing than the Slots at Racetracks.
2. No marketer/supporter/critic suggestions have worked better.pmn
3. The Liberals, on one hand were right, but on the other hand missed the point due to a lack of due diligence.
SARS was not a subsidy (It is now), it was a partnership. Where the Liberals were right was that one of the partners wasn't pulling its weight. 3 partners-OLG pulling its weight - horsepeople pulling theirs, but the track owners not pulling theirs; and so, SARS was cancelled.
Where the Liberals were wrong, was when they pulled the plug and devastated an industry, even though their high priced Sadinsky report of 2008 and Drummond report of 2011 recommended a "review"!

Objectively: The above is fact and indisputable.

Subjectively: I believe the current government, through the OLG is merely putting up with racing, and is basically throwing us a bone.
The current strategy does not work, and there is very little optimism in sight.
The rich in the industry are getting richer, and the poor are getting kids. Racing needs more people other than owners,trainers and drivers. It needs fans, gamblers, players, and and bigger pools. We need to stop preaching to the converted.

The solution is simple - are you listening Mr Brown?
Bring back, the Slots at Racetracks program for fans and gamblers, the backstretch for that horse person community, and the easy way to get new owners into the game - real claiming conditions.

Yours for integrity, transparency, and accountability,
Marty Adler
Track announcer

Yours for integrity, transparency, and accountability,
Marty Adler,
Great Lakes Television
(And track announcer beginning my 50th year on Aug 8 at Leamington Raceway)

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