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NB Wants Provincial Help

Published: August 5, 2014 2:03 pm ET

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The well documented struggles of the New Brunswick harness racing industry hit the mainstream press once again this past weekend.

In an article by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Horse Racing New Brunswick President Dr. Mitchell Downey was quoted as saying that the racino proposal that the organization has pitched in recent years has proven to be a win-win scenario for tracks and governments in other North American racing jurisdictions.

“The model that we're touting and showcasing and pushing for, is one that works,” said Dr. Downey. “We're not trying to reinvent the wheel.”

He pointed to Prince Edward Island in the article, stating that the Island government has enjoyed a positive return on investment since video lottery terminals were introduced to racetracks in the province. Dr. Downey stated that “for every dollar of taxpaying money they (the government) invest, they see a return of $10.”

Dr. Downey states that the New Brunswick racing group had a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Woodstock First Nation Economic Development Corp. in 2012 that would have seen 150 VLTs installed and operated at the Exhibition Park Raceway in Saint John. He also states in the article that HRNB signed an MOU with the provincial government in 2012, but the government cancelled the contract the very next day.

The CBC article has quoted Dr. Downey as saying that the government “simply didn't like the partner we selected, in Woodstock First Nation, when we signed our memorandum of understanding in 2012.”

The report goes on to state that the Province of New Brunswick ordered a feasibility study on the situation in 2013. In the article, Dr. Downey states that the study was “was set up and doomed to fail.” Citing the findings from the study, the government rejected the racing partnership.

“Every model that works in terms of a racino, in states and provinces across North America, has a hugely successfully racing industry and a hugely successful agriculture industry,” Dr. Downey said.

(With files from the CBC)

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