Due to the unsettled weather forecasted for Wednesday and Thursday, Mohawk Racetrack has rescheduled its qualifying session to Friday morning.
The eight qualifiers will begin Friday, March 2 at 10 a.m.
A harness racing organization representing the interests of horsepeople who race at Woodbine and Mohawk Racetracks
Due to the unsettled weather forecasted for Wednesday and Thursday, Mohawk Racetrack has rescheduled its qualifying session to Friday morning.
The eight qualifiers will begin Friday, March 2 at 10 a.m.
Derek Reid of Courtice, ON was good enough to send us a copy of the letter he sent today to both Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty and Finance Minister Dwight Duncan. The thought-provoking letter appears in its entirety below.
For weeks now I have been hearing that by your government ending the slots at racetracks program the province will be saving $350 million a year, money that can be earmarked towards schools or home care.
The question that I have that neither of you have answered is this: How? How exactly will this saving be achieved? What exactly is your plan to accomplish this?
Currently the horse racing industry receives 20% of slot revenue gambled at racetrack slots, divided evenly between the racetrack and the horsemen. Is your plan to eliminate the horsemen’s share of the revenue? If so, then that number is $175 million, or half of the $350 million you keep saying will be saved.
As well, since the racing industry provides $261 million in taxes to the province, then I fail to see how losing $86
million in revenue a year is of any help to the province.
Also, if your plan is to only cut the horsemen’s share and not the racetrack’s, then why has the liberal party paid for radio ads that attack “secret subsidies” to “wealthy racetrack owners,” when the “wealthy racetrack owners” would not be losing anything?
Is your plan then to eliminate both the horsemen’s AND the racetrack’s share?
If it is, since all of the racetracks in Ontario are privately owned and operated, what incentive is there for these
locations to maintain and operate slot parlours on their property with no compensation?
Do you plan to seize this property from their current owners? Do you plan to buy it from them? If so, how many hundreds of millions of dollars of taxpayer’s money will it cost to buy all 17 of these facilities?
If you do not plan on buying current racetrack slot parlours, do you intend to build new ones in the same municipality? If so, how many billions of dollars of taxpayers’ money will it take to buy the land and pay for the construction of new facilities?
If you do not plan on building new casinos in the municipalities that currently contain racetrack slots, do you plan on compensating the local municipality for their lost revenue?
I should also point out, if you are planning on the province taking over these operations, that according to the OLG’s annual report the existing five casinos operated by the province through the OLG LOST $45 million last year. This as opposed to slots at racetracks that made a profit for the provincial government of $1 billion.
What plans are in place to ensure that if you take over the operations currently being successfully performed at racetracks that they will in fact remain profitable and not lose money like existing government run casinos?
Is your plan to have outside private companies operate and maintain casinos while retaining a percentage for the province? If so how will that be better than the arrangement that currently exists?
According to the American Gaming Organization’s last annual report, private casino operators in the U.S. currently retain anywhere from 30 to 75% of casino revenue for themselves. What makes you think that any of them would come to a foreign country and operate a casino for less then the 20% that racetracks currently perform the service for? That’s assuming of course that any casino operator would even be interested in dealing with the province considering how they are treating their current ‘partners’ in this business.
While you both keep claiming that $350 million in savings can be achieved, I think you owe both myself and the people of Ontario an explanation as to how exactly you plan to accomplish this.
The fate of an industry that employs 60,000 people and provides countless benefits all across this province is hanging in the balance. If you have not properly thought out the answers to the questions I have asked then that great industry will be lost forever.
The latest Fact Sheet from the Ontario Horse Racing Industry Association shows that the Slots at Racetracks Program provides definite Value for Money:
The OLG Slots at Racetrack Program is a commercial contract between the Government of Ontario, through Ontario Lottery and Gaming, and seventeen racetracks throughout the Province of Ontario.
For more than ten years, the OLG Slots at Racetrack Program has been a successful partnership that generates more than a billion dollars a year for the Province.
By working with the horse racing industry, the government has successfully avoided significant capital costs, and is able to maximize its share of revenue through a fixed agreement. The OLG Slots at Racetrack program brings in more revenue for OLG than
lottery tickets, bingo or casinos.
Impact of the Slots at Racetracks Program by the Numbers:
• Slots at racetracks generate $1.1 billion dollars in revenue for the OLG, making it the biggest contributor to the OLG’s bottom line.
• OLG provided the Ontario Government $1.9 billion in the 2009-2010 fiscal year, 60% of that came from the Slots at Racetracks Program.
• That money gets invested into hospitals, the volunteer sector and municipal projects–meaning Ontarians get better services without having to pay more in taxes.
A Strong Horse Racing Industry Makes a Strong Ontario:
• 31,441 full time job equivalents exist in Ontario directly because of the Horse Racing
• It is estimated a total of 60,000 Ontarians are employed either full time, part-time or seasonally as a result of the Horse Racing Industry in Ontario.
Horse Racing is Big Business in Small Communities:
• The Ontario Horse Racing Industry spends approximately $2 billion dollars per year on goods and services relating to their trade.
• 80% of that money is spent primarily in rural, agricultural communities.
• Hosting a racetrack is a real boon for municipal governments who receive approximately 5% of slot revenue for local programs, sports teams, roads,bridges and emergency services.
OLG Supports the Slots at Racetrack Program:
“Payments to racetracks and horse people are a major economic stimulus for the agricultural industry in Ontario, with spin-off benefits for workers who stable and provide care for horses and the farmers who supply feed.”
The Ontario Horse Racing Industry Association has taken issue with some recent radio ads run by the Ontario Liberal Party where they refer to “wealthy racetrack owners”. OHRIA’s News Release, as well as the text from the on-air ads, appears below:
The Ontario Horse Racing Industry Association is deeply disappointed with the Ontario Liberal Party’s misleading portrayal of the OLG Slots at Racetrack Program. The OLG Slots at Racetrack Program is not a ‘secret subsidy’ that benefits ‘a few wealthy racetrack owners’ as the Liberals falsely claim. It is actually the largest source of revenue for OLG; greater than the casinos, lottery tickets or bingo, according to the OLG and Ministry of Finance figures.
Each year approximately $1.7 billion dollars of revenue is generated by OLG slots that are placed at private racetracks around Ontario. Of that money, approximately $345 million flows to the horse racing industry, with municipalities receiving nearly $80 million dollars and the Government of Ontario walking away with $1.1 billion in net profit. Ending the OLG at Slots Program ends the $1.1 billion dollars of profit.
“The Liberals need to understand the OLG Slots at Racetrack Program is a highly profitable venture for the Government of Ontario. By trying to remove the horse racing industry’s portion from the expense, the Liberals will end up removing the slots, and forgoing $1.1 billion dollars a year of revenue, adding to Ontario’s deficit.” Said Sue Leslie, President of the Ontario Horse Racing Industry Association.
Dwight Duncan’s 2011 budget spoke glowingly of OLG Slots at Racetrack Program’s contribution to Ontario’s finances.
According to Budget 2011, slot machines at racetracks were responsible, in part, for $1.5 billion dollars of hospital operating expenses, $120 million dollars for the Ontario Trillium Foundation, $41 million dollars for problem gambling and related programs, $10 million for amateur sports, and $69 million dollars for general government priorities (pg 234 of Budget 2011).
The OLG Slots at Racetracks Program was credited in Budget 2011 with providing $345 million dollars of support for Ontario’s Agricultural sector and $76 million dollars for municipalities.
“The Finance Minister needs to ensure he has his facts straight before he pulls the plug on this highly profitable OLG program.” Said Sue Leslie. “Nothing is ‘secret’ about the OLG Slots at Racetrack program as the Ontario Liberals falsely claim in their attack ads.” Leslie added.
Ontario’s Horse Racing Industry is responsible for 31,441 full time jobs in Ontario, and up to 60,000 jobs when including part-time and seasonal work. Horse racing industry expenses in Ontario total approximately $2 billion dollars per year with 80% ($1.6 billion) of those expenses being incurred in rural Ontario.
“Attacking a major industry like ours with false claims is hurting, not helping Ontario’s economy.” Said Leslie.
Text of Ontario Liberal Party Radio Ads:
Radio Ad One:
“Did you know that Tim Hudak’s PCs started a secret subsidy for a few, very wealthy racetrack owners? And now in these times of restraint, Tim Hudak says these rich payouts should be protected. He’d cancel full day kindergarten, leaving 50,000 four and five year olds stranded. Are we really going to spend more on horse racing than full day kindergarten? The PCs should do what’s right. Tell Tim Hudak his priorities aren’t your priorities.”
Radio Ad Two:
“Did you know that Tim Hudak’s PCs started a secret subsidy for a few, very wealthy racetrack owners? And now in these times of restraint, Tim Hudak says these rich payouts should be protected. But when it comes to our seniors, he voted against new supports to help them stay in their homes longer. Are we really going to protect horse racing over our parents and grandparents? The PCs should do what’s right. Tell Tim Hudak his priorities aren’t your priorities.”
For more information on the current struggle to save Ontario’s Horse Racing Industry, visit OHRIA’s website.
The Ontario Liberal Government’s plan to terminate the Slots at Racetracks Program would add $1.1 Billion to the province’s annual deficit, according to the Ontario Horse Racing Industry Association (OHRIA).
Finance Minister Dwight Duncan has been falsely referring to the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Slots at Racetrack revenue sharing program as a subsidy.
His claim is that the Government has been providing a $345 million dollar annual subsidy to Ontario’s Horse Racing Industry. In a recent fundraising email to supporters, the Ontario Liberal Party suggested that they are “choosing to support our youngest learners over wealthy race track owners”.
Duncan’s plans to save the Government $345 million from this alleged subsidy, would actually result in adding another $1.1 billion dollars to Ontario’s already out of control deficit. According to OLG’s financial statements, the Government of Ontario is receiving $1.1 billion dollars per year from the Slots at Racetracks Program.
The horse racing industry, which has made space available to OLG slots and allowed competition between the slots and horse racing at their facilities, receives only 20% of the revenue from the slots.The Government walks away with 75% of the slots revenue and host municipalities receive 5%.
If the Liberals end the Slots at Racetrack program, they will be forced to cut an additional $1.1 billion dollars a year from Ontario’s budget. This represents nearly 75% of the cost of full day kindergarden or three times the cost of the Liberal’s 30% tuition reduction.
“They can’t Be Ending Programs that Generate $1.1 Billion”
“The Ontario Liberals need to make a decision. If they want to see the government revenue stabilize and grow, they can’t be ending programs that generate $1.1 billion dollars a year for the Government, which is exactly what Dwight Duncan is proposing to do.” Said Sue Leslie,President of the Ontario Horse Racing Industry Association.
“They can’t have it both ways. If they end the Slots at Racetrack program, they will lose $1.1 billion dollars of revenue each year.
“WE are supporting Ontario’s youngest learners by generating more than a billion dollars a year for the Government.” Leslie added.
According to an economic study prepared for OHRIA in November 2011, there are 31,441 fulltime jobs sustained by Ontario’s Horse Racing Industry, with up to 60,000 jobs supported by the industry when factoring in part-time and casual employment.
With expenditures of nearly $2 billion dollars in the province of Ontario and 80% of that money being spent in rural municipalities, horse racing is the second largest subsection of Ontario’s agriculture economy.
“We will continue to increase pressure on the Government to recognize the devastating impact a short sighted decision to attempt to save $345 million dollars would have on Government revenues and the 60,000 families who rely on our industry for a pay cheque.” Added Leslie.
The OLG’s Annual Report for 2009-2010 is available on the OLG website .
The economic study prepared for OHRIA is available at http://ohria.com.
On Friday, February 24, Western Fair District President and CEO Hugh Mitchell issued an open letter to the Ontario horse-racing industry in which he called for all of the province’s racing factions to get behind the Ontario Horse Racing Industry Association’s efforts to save the provincial industry.
For up-to-date information regarding the fallout from the Drummond Report, click here.
The contents of Mitchell’s letter appear below.
Ontario Horse Racing Needs One Voice
This is the time for the Ontario horse racing industry to rally around the only organization that represents all stakeholders in Ontario.
The Ontario Horse Racing Industry Association was formed more than 15 years ago after much government consultation and was an integral reason we were awarded slots at racetracks in the beginning.
OHRIA represents every segment of the industry and has the resources and the resolve to take our position to the government in light of the findings coming out of the Drummond Report. I urge each and every person who derives his or her living from horse racing to follow OHRIA’s lead in this matter. Through OHRIA, let us take a business-like approach to working with government on a mutually beneficial business solution for the industry.
OHRIA is instructing all industry participants to write their local MPP, Minister Dwight Duncan and/or Premier Dalton McGuinty to express support of the horse racing industry and outline how changes to the Slots at Racetracks Program would negatively impact you and your community. The contact information, in addition to all of the necessary facts and figures you may want to include in your letter or email, are all on the OHRIA website .
The partnership between our industry and the government has been very beneficial to both with billions of dollars being generated for the government since it was introduced. We need to be open minded and work with the government to enhance gaming revenues in the province. We already have a business model in place that works well with the current 80 per cent split to the government and 20 per cent split to the horse people and tracks.
The horse racing community is made up of some of the most hard working and passionate people I have ever known. If we all work together on providing a unified front on this important industry matter you may be surprised with what we can achieve. Innovation, adaptability and discipline are industry traits that are pivotal to our success going forward. And although our future may seem unclear at this juncture, what we do know for sure is that it won’t be business as usual.
On January 16, 2012, the Canadian Pari-Mutuel Agency (CPMA) announced that official samples will be tested for ethanol, effective February 13, 2012.
Ethanol, a central nervous system depressant, is widely available in many forms. The CPMA is advising industry participants to take care and to read the label of ingredients when choosing products that are administered to horses. The Ontario Racing Commission (ORC) has noted this very same advice in previous Notices to the Industry.
To view the complete Notice to the Industry from the Ontario Racing Commission, please use this link: Notice to the Industry – CPMA now testing for ethanol
Alongside rural councillors from the city of Ottawa, a rally in support of Ontario’s partnership with the horse racing industry has been planned for Wednesday, February 29 at the Ottawa office of Premier Dalton McGuinty.
Horsemen and interested participants are invited to join National Capital Region Harness Horsemen’s Association representatives for this rally. The group will meet at the Rideau Carleton Raceway grandstand 10 a.m. on Wednesday, at which time an information package will be provided to all participants, before proceeding peacefully (transportation will be provided) to Premier McGuinty’s office at 1795 Kilborn Avenue in an attempt to have our collective voices heard.
The NCRHHA has been working diligently to deliver our message to government officials and the general public, committing to follow the strategy laid out by the Ontario Horse Racing Industry Association. The NCRHHA feels that Sue Leslie and her team at OHRIA are the most experienced and knowledgeable in terms of government and its relationship to horse racing.
Please note that the racetrack at Rideau Carleton will be closed at 9:00 a.m. on Wednesday for training and jogging.
The NCRHHA would like to thank everyone for working so hard to get the proper message out to the public. For more information, contact the NCRHHA office at 613-822-6819 or by email at email@example.com.
Articles in Toronto newspapers this week have given additional exposure to the uncertain future horse racing faces in the wake of the Drummond Report’s suggested changes to the Slots at Racetracks partnership.
Beverley Smith, writing in The Globe and Mail quotes OHRIA President Sue Leslie as saying, “Our customers have been cannibalized (by the slots)”. Read the complete article by clicking here.
Toronto Sun columnist Joe Warmington was sharply critical of the McGuinty faction’s stance against racing, saying, “It’s the kind of thing that could bring down the Liberal government in a vote of non confidence…” See the complete article by clicking here.
In the late 1990s and throughout the past decade the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporations(now the OLG) has been involved in a revenue sharing agreement with racetrack operators and host municipalities in Ontario in order to allow the placement of slot machines at racetracks.
The racetracks provided the OLG with access to their existing facilities, saving the government the massive expense of building their own facilities and having to gain the approval of municipalities and the public to build gambling venues in their back yards. This agreement was not entered into lightly by the horse racing industry.
After more than two years of economic review and negotiation, both the horse racing industry and the Ontario government’s Management Board of Cabinet agreed that a 20% share of the slots revenue could offset the loss of horse racing’s wagering dollar and customer base to sustain the horse racing industry. This revenue share would also help to offset the cost of operating and maintaining the buildings and properties in which the OLG’s government operated slots are housed.
For more than 10 years, the Slots at Racetracks Program has been a highly successful partnership which has allowed the horse racing industry to sustain itself and continue providing many economic benefits to the rural and municipal economies, while earning the provincial government more than $1.3 billion dollars in revenue every year.
Impact of the Horse Racing Industry by the numbers:
• $261 million dollars in revenue for the province of Ontario exclusive of slot revenue
• Horse Racing Industry spends more than $2 billion dollars per year in Ontario, with more than 80% of that money being spent in rural Ontario.
• Estimated 60,000 jobs are attributed to the horse racing and breeding industry.
• $1.5 billion dollars in wages and salaries are sustained annually by the total expenditures of the horse racing industry.
• Where the OLG’s resort casinos have lost millions of dollars, the Slots at Racetracks Program have returned billions of dollars in revenue. “Talk about value for money!” *
The OLG revenue sharing program has offset the negative financial impact slots at racetracks would otherwise have on the racing industry’s bottom line. The ever increasing competition imposed by the slots and other expanded gaming would further erode the wagering dollar to the point that the industry’s survival would be at serious risk. The government is looking to reduce the horse racing industry’s revenue share at a time when they are looking to expand their own gaming operations in direct competition with horse racing. In addition, if the proposed changes to the Criminal Code are implemented, the province’s will be allowed to operate sports betting, once again in direct competition with the horse racing industry.
Out of the more than 60,000 jobs that would be at risk, many of those employed have worked in the industry all their lives, some are even second and third generation racetrack workers who would be unlikely to find jobs in other industries.
By preserving the existing program, the government would continue to collect $1.5 billion dollars annually from the race horse industry (through OLG’s share of slot revenue and non slot revenue paid to the government) while ensuring Ontario’s horse racing industry remains economically sound for those rural communities and the 60,000 families that rely on the race horse industry for employment.
* Look for Ontario Horse Racing Industry Association’s next Fact Sheet “Talk about value for money!”
For more information contact OHRIA – phone: 416-679-0741/ email: firstname.lastname@example.org