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OHHA Contemplating Class-Action Lawsuit

Published: July 5, 2012 5:06 pm ET

Last Comment: July 7, 2012 12:40 pm ET | 25 Comment(s) | Jump to Comments

Ontario Harness Horse Association General Manager Brian Tropea has gone on the record as saying that OHHA lawyers have looked into and are considering a class-action lawsuit in relation to the Ontario Liberal Government pulling out of the slots-at-racetracks agreement.

“The OHHA is looking at all legal options," Tropea was quoted as saying yesterday in an article by the Barrie Examiner. "A class-action lawsuit is definitely something our lawyers are looking at."

The report has also quoted veteran racehorse owner Tony Tangereda of Kettleby, Ont. as saying that the situation has been "terrible" and that the Ontario government "should be happy with the money they’ve had. Now they’re putting 50,000 people out of work who will have to collect welfare. They (horsepeople) don’t know anything but horse racing.”

Tangreda continued, stating, “Without the slot machines there will be no way (for racing) to survive. There will be no money coming in. I normally keep 15 horses and now I’m down to seven. I’ll decide where to go from there if there is no slot money coming in. I’m not going to keep horses if there’s no money to race.”

The article also features a rare comment from a member of the province's upper-echelon driving colony, Mike Saftic.

“If the purses get cut and the horses go away, the race tracks are going to close down,” Saftic was quoted as saying. “There’ll be no place to make a living. There’s no way we’re going to survive.”

(With files from the Barrie Examiner)

July 7, 2012 - 12:40 pmNo harm in trying. We elect

Paul Kelly SAID...

No harm in trying. We elect the government, they make laws and change laws. Virtually, we can voice concerns, protest, write to members of parliament or examine the possibility of a class action lawsuit against our current Liberal Parties decision. I am not a lawyer but we as group (OHHA) need to, at least look at all alternative measures. I know the old saying that you can't fight "city hall" but we can't give in. "Yes" it may cost money to fight but if you don't, many people will be out of work regardless, whether you spend our money or not. These bureaucrats are expected to exercise judgement in the best interest of people in Ontario and are expected to explain the reasoning for their actions on request and in a civil manner. Up until this point, they have proposed changes to the existing slots-at-racetracks programs, but from what i hear and read on Standardbred Canada our illustrious Liberal Party has no idea what they are doing yet and they want to change its current regulatory program in place. I am an entrepreneur and believe that change and fair competition is good but I also feel that our government has mistreated the people that have contributed billions of dollars back to our government and economy. At the end of the day your can't stop fighting for what you think is right and if a lawsuit is possibility , I am "all in".

July 7, 2012 - 9:01 amGet hold of the purse

Get hold of the purse accounts right now, form a corporation between the horsemen and tracks, make the application to the government and the OLG.
We would have the money and experience necessary to qualify for the aproval, not to mention we would not be a foreign corporation and the money stays in Ontario.

July 6, 2012 - 3:46 pmMarv & Chuck are correct. A

Bobbi Morley SAID...

Marv & Chuck are correct. A lawsuit is the worst possible move, in that no matter how much money we have, the government has more- remember how much we have been "subsidizing " them for the last 15 years or so? The public will not take kindly to having tax dollars spent on a defence, which the government will surely win. Never doubt that Duncan will continually harp on how the horsemen are costing the taxpayer yet again more money.

The Harness Edge interview with Sue Leslie certainly clarified some things for me, and it is worth the time to listen to it. For example, she points out that shutting down the slots puts the tracks in breach of contract; the government would love that to happen, since it would take until well past March 2013 to sort out.

We absolutely have to stand behind OHRIA and stop allowing splinter groups to divide us.

July 6, 2012 - 12:48 pmI agree with the launching of

jim rigg SAID...

I agree with the launching of a law suit as long as it is directed at the proper body namely the ORC for failing to inform the investors and the Horse Community of the knowledge that they had prior to this decision by the Gov't. My reasoning is #1 Where is the HIP Criteria booklet for 2012? #2 The Goals and Objectives of the ORC #3 the 600 page Drummond Report #4 the 360 page Budget #5 I believe the Horse Racing and Breeding Industry is an Investment Business; therefore anyone with inside information should be compelled to make this public ie Martha Stewart. Need I say more! Good Luck OHHA.

July 6, 2012 - 12:19 pmMarv, you misunderstood my

Carolyn Rae SAID...

Marv, you misunderstood my comment. I am very aware that the ORC controls the purse accounts, and that is why I made the comment. You have essentially said exactly what I was saying. The ORC (Provincial Government) has control over our share of the slots money. What is going to happen to that money at the end of March 2013. The slots may end, but there should still be money in the horseman's account (10% share). Do we leave it in the hands of the ORC? Do we trust that this Liberal Government, Duncan will not simply take the money when their deadline of March 31, 2013 arrives?

July 6, 2012 - 12:09 pmAs much as a law-suit sounds

Chuck Ibey SAID...

As much as a law-suit sounds good I think it is ill advised. It is time for the industry(tracks/horsemen)get together and plot a strategy to takeover the management of the slots at tracks. look to hiring a company to run the slots at all tracks and come up with a revenue sharing agreement with the gov,t. We will accomplish nothing by a law-suit against the govt.other than paying lawyers a lot of money. We will ultimately end up with the lack of long-term ability to sustain the industry.
I would suggest that this is our best chance to get the gov't to address our issue. jmo

Chuck Ibey

July 6, 2012 - 10:30 amNo business entity or

Norm Brunet SAID...

No business entity or industry can survive a 50% or more reduction in earnings or income, so for all intents and purpose the horse industry in this province as we know it is doomed. If this ill advised government goes ahead with this plan the ontario taxpayer will be the one on the hook to mop up this financial mess that they will create.

I do believe that it is therefore the responsability of the horse industry to educate by whatever means, be it through litigation or civil unrest the balance of the Ontario taxpayers on a plan that we will all be paying for in years to come.

The lack of respect that this government has shown by not acknowledging the amount of jobs at stake or purposely misrepresenting the revenue sharing agreement by a subsidy is beyond comprehension and crosses the line of human decency. It's up to all of us to make a difference now.

July 6, 2012 - 9:56 amAt last something to rally

Roy Steele SAID...

At last something to rally behind ....... We cant trust politicians on both sides of the house they say they support the horsemen then do back door deals. This class action is for everybody and will reveal what was originally agreed and what is actually happening. Believe April 13th was the date Woodbine gave to close ...... no need for discussion after that date.

July 6, 2012 - 8:34 amMarvin ...I've been told that

Tim Dean SAID...

Marvin ...I've been told that tracks have been left with as much as $5,000,000 at years end from the slots revenue...from several high ranking horse officials...and the name Georgian Downs did come up...they try to use it in these $5000-$10,000 claiming series at years end...the series went on forever last December...
I don't thinks Ford put up all the $500,000

July 6, 2012 - 8:24 amDave, Thanks for the


Dave, Thanks for the response, would be nice to get a huge company like Hardrock Entertainment from the US to look @ this, of course everything already being in place @ racetracks in Ontario with proven revenues should be somewhat of an easy transition without a hard sell, best of luck to this great industry and the great hardworking dedicated people behind it.

July 6, 2012 - 6:57 am$100 billion would get their

Norman Hall SAID...

$100 billion would get their attention. That should cover the lost earnings of 60,000 people over a 20 year period plus the instant loss of asset worth for real estate, equipment and horse inventory that will result fro an industry meltdown. $100 billion has a good ring to it. Lets tie that bell around the necks of the Liberal cats and see what happens.

July 6, 2012 - 5:12 amTom Kelly: in my opinion?

Tom Kelly SAID...

Tom Kelly: in my opinion? This is the war of 2012.Two hundred years ago we upper Canada's people took on the enemy and won! I can recall the closure of Orangeville Race Track .At the same time the Provincial Government made the agreement to partner with the horsemen and BOTH signed the agreement?Watch the movie the three stooges Moe Larry Shemp remind me of THREE OTHER PEOPLE involved in breaking the agreement ,I can only print G.M.and D.Just because we hire a lawyer doesn't mean we will win the war but for the horses sake and their future we must FIGHT! Begin with the O.L.G. And ask where there annual report is? WHERE ARE THE BILLIONS OF DOLLARS GO?Tom KELLY VOULANTEER SOLDIER.......

July 5, 2012 - 11:52 pmCarolyn Rae You should do

Carolyn Rae
You should do your homework. All purse accounts are monitored and controlled by the ORC and have been for years. This happened ever since tracks like Orangeville and Peterboro forgot to pay the horseman as per their contract.
Do you remember when Georgian Downs and OHHA agreed to take purse money to keep the track open in the winter of 2010. The ORC would not approve purse money be used for track maintenance even though it was the wish of the horsemen.
Sorry I can't agree with you that a lawsuit makes any sense. Great though for the lawyers. Too much money has been spent on lawyers by this association in the past number of years.

July 5, 2012 - 11:45 pmUse the $50,000,000 for the

Tim Dean SAID...

Use the $50,000,000 for the lawyers...I'd rather they get it.... then McGuinty or Duncan

Diane Lord said it right
It would be awesome to have McGuinty served with a court order to face charges...
The sooner we realize that this government has no intention of re-instating the agreement....shove the order up their Kazoos

July 5, 2012 - 11:31 pmFinally!Some sense in this

Ian Dow SAID...

Finally!Some sense in this mess, never mind considering a law suit, just get on with it!

July 5, 2012 - 11:26 pmI cannot understand what the

I cannot understand what the class action lawsuit would be in regards to. The government is making a decision that the horse industry does not like. That does not mean there is any basis in law for a legitimate lawsuit to be launched. As stupid as you may think the decision by the government is, they are well within their rights to do what they are doing. This lawsuit is without merit. I would suggest the horse industry take another approach. Something more constructive that has a chance to make a difference. This lawsuit will not make a difference, will cost money to bring forward and will not affect any change.

July 5, 2012 - 10:30 pmThe tracks would love to run

Joe Shea SAID...

The tracks would love to run their own slots....however the government has made it very clear that only private companies with gaming experience....and large amounts of money....will be considered for potential hosting sites. Before the Slots program came in, racing was was basically the only gambling in Canada. Now we compete head on with the government for the gambling dollar. However, while the government has the ability to expand and increase their gambling opportunities,(slots, bingo, untold lotteries, casinos, online gambling, etc etc....) horseracing is very tightly restricted and regulated by....guess who...We are dealing with a whole new generation of gamblers...those that have grown up with the internet, video games, and being used to instant gratification. Unfortunately, without the slots, horseracing cannot keep up with that. Because of the very successful partnership of the slots program, horseracing has thrived lately, and this has allowed immense growth of our industry, of our contribution to our communities, and a very vital injection of business opportunities and money for rural Ontario. It has made very substantial contributions to the host communties through the revenue sharing, as well as providing millions for health and education....the very programs that the government is trying to "save" by ending the slots program.

July 5, 2012 - 9:36 pmExcept for wagering on horse

Except for wagering on horse racing, all other forms of gambling are the exclusive right of the provincial government... that is by act of the federal government... maybe we could get the federal government to amend the definition of a racetrack to include racinos with a limited number of slots and tables for the purpose of supporting the racing purses, with limits as to how close to any raetrack the provincial governments may place one of their own gambling establishments.

July 5, 2012 - 8:44 pmClass Action lawsuit is

Carolyn Rae SAID...

Class Action lawsuit is great.... but first let's get the lawyers checking into the purse accounts. All the tracks have surplus in the purse account, and that money belongs to the horsemen, yet no-one can tell us what happens to that money March 31, 2013. Now is the time to get moving on legal action if that's what it takes to turn control of the purse account over to the horsemen and women before March 2013, to ensure McGuinty, Duncan and Godfrey don't get their hands on OUR MONEY!

July 5, 2012 - 8:34 pmWell it's about time. This

Well it's about time. This is so frustrating waiting for something meaningful to happen. Let's get the legal action going quickly.

July 5, 2012 - 8:18 pmGlen We have been purposely

Dave Snowden SAID...


We have been purposely written out of running a racetrack/slots. Only bids from "established" ie- US based companies with experiance running a casino can apply.

YES to a class action lawsuit...

July 5, 2012 - 8:09 pmContemplating!!!!!! Move your

Diane Lord SAID...

Contemplating!!!!!! Move your butts!!!

July 5, 2012 - 7:41 pmIn this Business we look 3 -

gord young SAID...

In this Business we look 3 - 5 years down the road, whether it be purchasing a yearling, a broodmare or a training center. The prov. gov. knows this and have known it for years. We have acted in good faith as they did for years, well their part of the GOOD FAITH has diminished. No court in Canada will side with the current government.

July 5, 2012 - 6:59 pmDon't understand why tracks


Don't understand why tracks can't run there own slots, licensing issues? Racetracks are obviously making money over the past 10-12 years , should be able to maintain & sustain on their own.

July 5, 2012 - 5:21 pmIt's about time that legal

Paul Keith SAID...

It's about time that legal action be taken against this ridiculous liberal government. There is little time to waste.

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