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McMeekin Comments On Racing's Future

Published: August 28, 2012 10:19 pm ET

Last Comment: August 29, 2012 10:54 am ET | 7 Comment(s) | Jump to Comments

The slots-at-racetracks program won’t be resurrected, Minister of Agriculture Ted McMeekin said Monday, but he’s hopeful there will be a better way forward after the horse racing industry transition panel submits its final report.

McMeekin said that despite the outcry from some equine groups, the slots program (SARP) created a “fractious industry” and it needed to go.

The panel, which released its interim report on Friday, agreed and said any new funding for horse racing would need the accountability and transparency the slots program lacked.

“It’s clear that the SARP program is not going to be reinstated,” he told QP Briefing. “Is there a next-best right answer? Another model that’s viable and stable? That’s been our goal all along. Nobody in this government has been out to crumble the industry; we’ve been out to find a way to make it viable.”

The Ontario Horse Racing Industry Association (OHRIA) released a statement praising the panel’s professionalism and highlighting several of the report’s key recommendations for the industry.

These include a new partnership to keep horse racing as part of the gambling mix in the province and to ensure its future before next season, when thousands of horses might be slaughtered.

The panel recommends the continuation of the Horse Improvement Program and Ontario Sire Stakes programs, “which OHRIA thinks bodes well for buyer confidence at the upcoming horse sales in Ontario,” according to the statement.

OHRIA president Sue Leslie said she looks forward to continuing to work with the panel “to achieve an outcome where the horse racing industry will continue its valuable contribution to Ontario’s economy.”

McMeekin has asked the panel to refocus for its final report and look for solutions that will allow the government to help the industry move forward. He said the OHRIA’s $210 million-per-year ask is actually beyond what SARP provided but “the $50 million isn’t enough. The panel said that and I accept that.”

“We need to find something; we need to work with them to see where we go,” he said, adding that he hopes the panel will present its final report by Sept. 30.

“Then, the government will need to take some political decisions, one way or the other,” said McMeekin.


August 29, 2012 - 10:54 am"Another model that’s viable

Lynne Magee SAID...

"Another model that’s viable and stable? That’s been our goal all along. Nobody in this government has been out to crumble the industry; we’ve been out to find a way to make it viable.”

Just another way of saying that 'the government needs to save face so we'll now come up with another plan and call it something else'. Whatever. They broke something that was working even if it did produce, according to the Liberals a "fractious industry". That "fractious industry" could have put its pieces together if the ORC (government) had been more accountable and attentive to issues such as what went on at Windsor, etc. They sabbotaged themselves and then blamed the industry for the mess?? Typically, this government is not to blame for anything. Everyone around them is though.

August 29, 2012 - 10:10 amWait....$210 Million that

Chuck Ibey SAID...

Wait....$210 Million that OHRIA asked for is more than SARP provided....haven't the Liberals been touting that horse racing has been receiving a $300 million plus subsidy......I am totally confused!
The only thing I want these Liberals to explain is why they would give this industry less than they will Bingo hall operators in 47% when they launch video gaming there (read VLTs) and big money to foreign owned casino operators.
I don't think I will somehow get that answer.

Chuck Ibey

August 29, 2012 - 9:00 amCreated a FRACTIOUS INDUSTRY

Roy Steele SAID...

Created a FRACTIOUS INDUSTRY says Mr McMeekin the Minister .... Definition of FRACTIOUS ..... Unpredictably difficult in Operation ....... So the minister admits that a govt operated industry that created jobs a billion dollars a year in revenue all governed by the OLG is difficult to run.
The money comes in everyone gets a piece of the pie jobs are created....Time to look at oneself Mr Mcmeekin. The goose that laid the Golden Egg is about to take flight ....

August 29, 2012 - 6:58 amYesterday it was the teachers

Yesterday it was the teachers (a lot of them). To-morrow it's the horsemens' turn. SHOW UP, don't disappoint. This is your last chance. Don't know what they mean by not transparent unless it mans they gave too much of the pot to track owners and did not oversee that they put some of that back into track conditions. With that I certainly agree but the horsemen let them get away with it.

August 29, 2012 - 6:13 amTed, Does OLG want us in the


Does OLG want us in the "gambling mix" - we are dead in the water without the ability to enact a change in gambling laws. We have a good product that can be made better. How do we convince the govt that our product will take off in popularity if aggressively marketed and offered in the right forms to the correct demographic?

We want/need the opportunity to modernize our gambling product as well!

August 28, 2012 - 10:55 pmLMAO. A week ago, he said

Don Patrick SAID...

LMAO. A week ago, he said nothing of the sort. Now that the report is public, he is spouting Liberal rhetoric. He is, the world's most predictable man.

August 28, 2012 - 10:41 pmCan you believe these

Can you believe these statements? I hope his word is kept.

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