July 28, 2014

WEG’s Horseplayer Interactive Goes Mobile

Responding to consumer popularity of mobile devices, the Woodbine
Entertainment Group officially released its new HorsePlayer Interactive Mobile
Betting platform on Monday, April 30.

HPI customers can now place their wagers through an advanced, user-friendly
interface for mobile devices, with all the traditional HPI conveniences such as
live video streaming, programs, account funding, results, replays and the HPI
rewards program.

“Today’s launch is further proof that WEG is the industry leader in
technology, horse racing, gaming and entertainment,” said WEG President and CEO
Nick Eaves. “Mobile devices have become powerful mini-computers with high-speed
networks and data plans that are more affordable and accessible. This new mobile
site takes advantage of these realities and is much like using a self-serve
terminal in the palm of your hand.”

The new site has been optimized for iPhone and Android smartphones, but is
compatible with a wide range of mobile devices and screen sizes.

To access the new platform, fans can visit horseplayerinteractive.com from
their mobile device.

(Standardbred Canada–With files from WEG)

OHRIA Backs Member’s Bill Requiring Referendums To Expand Gaming In Ontario

The Ontario Horse Racing Industry Association applauds MPP Monte McNaughton’s private member’s bill, introduced in the Legislature on Thursday April 26, 2012 that would require local referendums prior to allowing new gaming facilities to be constructed.

“We believe this bill is an important step and one that will ensure, just as the OLG Slots at Racetracks Program has done in the past, that only communities that support OLG gaming facilities will host them,” said Sue Leslie, President of the Ontario Horse Racing and Breeding Association.

Both the NDP and PC have spoken in favour of referendums prior to the approval of new gaming facilities, and OHRIA hopes that both parties will unite to push this bill through the legislature prior to the spring recess.

“The Slots at Racetracks Program is a $1.1 billion dollar profit generator for the government of Ontario that was created as a result of wide spread opposition to hosting gaming facilities. The seventeen tracks proved to be willing hosts, in willing communities and the government has reaped the benefit ever since,” said Leslie.

MPP McNaughton’s bill will be voted on at second reading on May 3rd 2012 and if passed at that stage referred to committee for further consideration. New Democrats or Liberal MPPs support will be required to pass the bill.

(OHRIA)

OHRIA Responds To Ontario Budget –Lettter From Sue Leslie

I wanted to send you an update on our efforts to work with all three parties at Queen’s Park to find a sustainable way forward for the Ontario horse racing and breeding industry in light of the government’s cancellation of the Slots at Racetracks Program.

OHRIA has been engaged in discussion with senior government officials and opposition party members for more than two months now and while the news is that these efforts have resulted in some transitional funding, as confirmed by Budget 2012, we do not believe this is sufficient to support or sustain our industry.

There is still a lot of work and effort to be done to ensure that there is a go forward model that is fair to horsepeople, breeders and the racetracks.  This is a key aspect that OHRIA will continue to work towards in any future agreement.

OHRIA continues to work diligently with representatives from the government, opposition parties, OLG and industry participants to find a resolution to ensure horse racing and breeding can continue to provide thousands of Ontarians with employment, drive local rural economies and provide the public with the entertainment they derive from visiting Ontario’s racetracks.

The passage of Budget 2012 does not provide our industry with all the tools we need, however I want to assure you that conversations are ongoing and OHRIA remains committed to do whatever is necessary to ensure that the horse racing and breeding industry in Ontario is preserved for the long-term.

Sincerely,

Sue Leslie
President – OHRIA
416 679 0741
http://value4money.ca

Ontario Budget Passes In Legislature, OHRIA Continues to Seek Industry Sustainability

On Tuesday, April 24, the Ontario Liberals’ budget survived a 52-37 vote in
the Legislature at Queen’s Park, one in which Andrea Horwath’s provincial NDP
party abstained from participating in.

The Liberal Budget will now be debated in the Legislature before it passes.

OHRIA President Sue Leslie is still fighting for sustainability and
transitional aid.

“We are still focused on sustainability, not transition,” Leslie told Blood-Horse. “Until we can have meaningful dialogue about how
this industry is going to be sustained rather than how this industry is going to
be transitioned, it certainly cracks the door open, but the door needs to be
opened a lot more yet.”

Leslie went on to say that the focus will remain on information and PR
campaigns in the days ahead while continuing discussions with Liberals and
NDP.

(Standardbred Canada)

SBOA and Standardbred Canada Promoting Breeding Farm Open Houses On Mother’s Day, May 13

The Standardbred Breeders of Ontario Association and Standardbred Canada’s I Love Canadian Harness Racing Fan Club are partnering to present a special Mother’s Day Open House Program at five Standardbred breeding establishments in the province.

On Sunday, May 13, these breeding farms will open their gates and farms to the general public from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. to showcase their mares, foals and facilities:

Casimir Stables, Hagar
High Stakes Farm, Moffat
Seelster Farms, Lucan
St Lads Farm, Ruscom
Twinbrook Farms, Embro

The Open House will give the general public an opportunity to get up close and personal with the mares and foals, pet a foal, get a behind the scenes tour of the farm, and talk with the owners about a day in the life of a Standardbred breeder.

“Our goal is to give our neighbours, and the residents in our communities a snapshot of Standardbred breeding and demonstrate the importance of our industry to the rural community and Ontario’s economy,” said Anna Meyers, president of the SBOA.

“We’ve designed an event that’s both fun and educational,” said Meyers. “This is a great opportunity for people who wouldn’t normally have a chance to visit a horse farm to connect with the horses and the people in our industry.”

All guests who visit the farms will be given an I Love Canadian Harness Racing package which will include a brochure on the Ontario Standardbred Breeding Industry, some swag items and coupons / discounts for the local racetrack.

The mission of the SBOA is to continue to encourage and support the growth of a financially viable and sustainable breeding industry while representing and clearly defining the breeders’ position on major issues to  industry partners, government and regulators.  It also aims to provide breeders with improved communications and education resources.

Keep The Pressure On The NDPs, Urges OHRIA, If You’ve Already Called, Do It Again Before April 24th Budget Vote

OHRIA President Sue Leslie is asking every Ontario horseperson to call NDP MPP offices before the Budget vote on April 24th, to let the polititians know how the cancellation of the Slots at Racetracks program affects you and your livelihood. Her letter appears below:

—————————————————————————————–

 

Last month, just after the Ontario budget was announced, we asked you to phone NDP MPPs and help make the case for protecting Ontario’s horse racing industry. Together we mobilized thousands of people and were able to get our industry included as part of the NDP negotiations with the Liberals over the budget.

On Tuesday, MPPs will vote on the budget for the first time. It is one of two votes that will happen in the next little while on the budget that could defeat the government.

With the stakes so high it is critical that you phone NDP MPPs again to remind them how important Ontario’s horse racing industry is to our economy.

For your convenience, I have included the instructions from our last call to action to the NDP. Please take the same steps again this time.

It is important that everyone in our industry share our stories with the NDP. We need the NDP to understand the serious degree of impact here.

I have been impressed by the NDP’s commitment to stand up and fight for our industry, and it is important in the coming days and weeks, we solidify that by making our concerns part of their negotiation.

This presents an incredible opportunity, but one that will only be realized if we all stand together and everyone picks up the phone and makes three short calls.

In our time of need, we must all find the five minutes it will take to do this before April 24, 2012.

1)    Call your own NDP MPP or the closest NDP MPP to your community (numbers below).
2)    Tell them your name, what city you live in, how horse racing impacts you. Urge them to support an extension of the OLG Slots at Racetracks Program through 2015 and to have the government negotiate with OHRIA on the long term future of the industry.

e.g. ‘My name is XXXX XXXXX. I’m from XXXXXXX and work as a XXXXXXX. Can you please tell MPP XXXXX that it’s important to me and thousands of other Ontarians that the NDP demand the government honour the OLG Slots at Racetracks Program through 2015 to protect the 60,000 jobs Ontario’s horse racing and breeding industry support? That will give the government and OHRIA time to work together on a long term plan for our industry.

3) Call Andrea Horwath’s Office 416 325 2777:

Tell them your name, what city you live in, how horse racing impacts you. Urge them to support honouring the OLG Slots at Racetracks Program through 2015 and to have the government negotiate with OHRIA on the long term future of the industry.

e.g. ‘My name is XXXX XXXXX. I’m from XXXXXXX and work as a XXXXXXX. Can you please tell MPP Horwath that it’s important to me and thousands of other Ontarians that the NDP demand the government honour the OLG Slots at Racetracks Program through 2015 to protect the 60,000 jobs Ontario’s horse racing and breeding industry support? That will give the government and OHRIA time to work together on a long term plan for our industry.

MPP NAME RIDING PHONE NUMBER
Teresa J. Armstrong London–Fanshawe 519-668-1104
Gilles Bisson Timmins–James Bay 705-268-6400
Sarah Campbell Kenora–Rainy River 807-274-7619
Cheri DiNovo Parkdale–High Park 416-763-5630
Cindy Forster Welland 905-732-6884
France Gélinas Nickel Belt 705-969-3621
Andrea Horwath Hamilton Centre 905-544-9644
Michael Mantha Algoma–Manitoulin 705-461-9710
Rosario Marchese Trinity–Spadina 416-603-9664
Paul Miller Hamilton East-Stoney Creek 905-545-0114
Taras Natyshak Essex 519-776-6420
Michael Prue Beaches–East York 416-690-1032
Jonah Schein Davenport 416-535-3158
Peter Tabuns Toronto–Danforth 416-461-0223
Monique Taylor Hamilton Mountain 905-388-9734
John Vanthof Timiskaming–Cochrane 705-647-5995

 

I want to end by thanking you again for your support and all the important actions you’ve taken to support Ontario’s horse racing and breeding industry.

Sincerely,
Sue Leslie
President – Ontario Horse Racing Industry Association
http://value4money.ca

 

Horsepeople Speak Out Against Liberal Government’s Actions, Urge Support of OFL Rally, April 21

As Ontario’s budget vote comes in less than one week, horsemen are urging the
industry to help keep the province’s valuable horse racing industry on the minds
of the MPPs that will vote on the Liberal budget.

Anthony MacDonald issued the following letter asking for horsemen to support
the Ontario Federation of Labour rally, set for Queen’s Park this Saturday.
MacDonald’s plea comes with comments from some of Canadian harness racing’s most
recognizable participants. The message to the Government is clear. Don’t destroy
Ontario’s horse racing industry and the 60,000 full and part-time employees it
supports. Don’t damage rural Ontario and the economic benefits horse racing
provides.

—————————————————————————

As most are aware our industry has come under heavy attack in the last two
months. All of us feel picked on and the focus of an unprovoked and fiscally
confusing maneuver by our own provincial liberal government.

We are not alone.

All facets of rural ontario are up in arms over the way our government plans
on tackling our mounting $16-billion debt, particularly the “modernization” of
the OLG. The first step was to announce that the slots at racetracks program was
finished. Ripples were sent out all over Ontario and it didn’t take long for the
Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) to speak on our behalf.

Next the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) spoke out at our last
rally with the OFA at Queens Park. The Canadian Auto Workers and now the Ontario
Federation of Labour (OFL) have voiced their strong opinions against this
“morally challenged” move from Mr. McGuinty and his Liberals. The OFL has a
massive rally planned for Saturday, April 21 at Queens Park from 3:00 – 5:00
p.m.

All the following quotes are from people all throughout our industry; our
friends and co-workers who can all see what kind of a negative future the
collapse of our industry in any way, shape, or form will bring to all of our
households.

Come to the rally on Saturday, we are not just 60,000, we are not just horse
racing. We Are HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS all over Ontario. WE ARE ONTARIO.

- Anthony MacDonald


“Horse racing is a vital part of the rural economy. Ontario farmers rely on
this industry — this is a province-wide issue! Our lives and livelihoods are in
serious jeopardy. I’m a second generation horseman and I have always taken pride
in what this industry has allowed me to accomplish. But my biggest
accomplishment is my family. The family values that I instill are trust and
honesty. How can I trust our government when they are  far from honest in this
respect?”

- Paul MacDonell

“My father worked hard to raise a family in this business and I would like
the chance to do the same. To raise a family in a business that has already
given so much to the Zerons has always been a goal of mine.

“Why would our government chose unemployment over employment? Where do we go
in society? What are the farmers to do if we go?”

- Scott Zeron

“My family has been involved in horse racing for generations. We get up
early, work hard, pay our taxes and support our communities. As horse people we
recognize the importance of hard work, our business is built around gambling,
but we don’t gamble our way out of debt. Why does our government feel they
should?

“Cutting vital organs to our agricultural sector and leaving horse people
unemployed is no way for a responsible government to reduce debt. We all work
together, not just horse people but all of rural Ontario, the position my family
and your family has been put in is unacceptable.”

- Randy Waples

“This industry is and always will be in my blood. For generations my family
has supported ourselves and our community with the revenue generated from
racing. I have a breeding farm and have raised my foals like I raised my
daughter, with love and affection. What do I tell my daughter if there is no
more business? When I have to sell my farm?? And she doesn’t have a legacy to
uphold and continue?

“We horse people work hard, always have. All we ask is for an opportunity to
continue to raise our families, and keep the jobs we have worked in since we
were all young. Don’t throw such a viable healthy partnership away, grow it and
we can all work our way out of debt together.”

- Joanne Coville

“When I was 17 I got into a terrible car crash, I had extensive injuries to
my body and I was in a coma. The doctors said I would never walk again but I did
because my passion for harness racing and my will to become a driver pushed
me.

“I learned everything I know from my father who has been in this business his
whole life. I haven’t reached my goals in harness racing yet but I have every
intention to do so. Can I live without harness racing, can any of us? It’s what
I live and breathe and I hope the government sees our industry for what it
is….a lifeline for me, my family and all of rural Ontario.”

- J Harris

“My entire family is involved or works in horse racing in one facet or
another. Our farm has probably had almost $1 million in capital Improvements in
the last seven or eight years. Many of its features are race horse-specific and
its value has definitely been affected by the recent Liberal government
decision. In an often volatile business its equity was one of the things I could
count on.

“Also at my farm I employ between 15 to 20 people at all times. This does not
count the seasonal students I hire every summer. With the Government forcing
such a downturn in my business, I will definitely be cutting back my number of
employees as racing opportunities in Ontario decrease and I am either forced to
sell horses OR race in other jurisdictions. I have already noticed that
potential customers of the horses I sell are less interested in my Ontario-Bred
horses. At one time this was almost a prerequisite.

“This whole calamity with the OLG and Liberal government has even made my
family and I consider SELLING the farm and either getting out of the business or
setting up elsewhere. At one time selling such a thing so beloved by my family
would have never entered into the dinner time conversation.”

- Blair Burgess

“Harness racing is my whole life. It’s all I know how to do. And all I ever
wanted to do. When I win races I reinvest in the business. I bought a new
trailer last year, new jog carts, a new race bike, new horses, and with that new
equipment. Without harness racing I don’t know what I’d do. I’d be among
thousands of my fellow horsemen. Lost. ”

- Jason McGinnis

“It really hit home for me at the track shortly after the announcement was
made to cancel the slots agreement, talking to the horse people and seeing the
confusion, the anger and worry in their faces and all the while I’m trying to be
positive. Then I look around and see a young girl crying worried about her
future, it broke my heart. It’s hard to see so many people, so many families
have their lives destroyed by a greedy, callous out of touch government.”

- Dave Gibson

“To my family and I, keeping the “slots at racetracks program” versus
accepting the proposed budget is the difference between Food Basics and the food
bank. It’s the difference between a roof over our heads and a shelter. It’s the
difference between hugging my babies because I love them and hugging them to
keep them warm from the harsh elements. It is the difference between seeing my
husband on a daily basis and seeing him in six-month increments because he had
to relocate to find work. It’s the difference between having a choice and being
forced to choose!

“Mr. McGuinty and Mr. Duncan keep using the phrase ‘it was a tough decision’
but we don’t get to decide.”

- Christine Arlidge

“As a participant in various aspects of the horse racing industry with a
young family, I am deeply concerned for our future. We have already seen a
drastic decline in stallion bookings with the worst yet to come unless something
is done to save our sport and jobs.”

- Jeff Gillis

“My husband and I got into the standardbred business because we love working
with horses. Both of our lives are interwoven in many aspects; from standing
stallions, freezing horse semen for export, running a reproductive veterinary
practice, freelance writing and working at the racetrack as an official
veterinarian.

“We spend many months watching diligently as a new foal is born and get up
the next day putting in a full work day because this is the way of life we have
come to know and love. Our farm, our investments, our horses, our livelihood is
now in jeopardy.

“As breeders, we have written to every MPP to explain how the breeding
industry is reeling from the effects of the announcement ending the slots at
racetracks program in March 2013. We are left asking ‘does government care’
about the impact of these decisions? All revenue streams are being effected;
from cancelled bookings, to mares being relocated to other racing jurisdictions,
to fewer mares being bred and boarded due to the uncertainty of the situation in
Ontario. Add the fact that the investment we have made in stallion shares,
yearlings, foals, mares may be greatly devalued or wiped out and you begin to
see how dire the situation is.

“Our situation is similar to those of breeders across this province.
Investment is leaving this province each day and we are worried about what will
be left of the breeding industry and the racing industry, an industry we love. I
have to believe that things won’t be left this way and can only hope that those
that we elect in government will do the right thing. That they will stop, sit
down with industry and take the time to really understand what this really means
and come up with some practical solutions that are in the best interest of this
province and for its people.

“Maintaining 60,000 jobs, many in rural area,s along with the economic
spinoff of $2B annually must be important. If this isn’t…then this province is
in real trouble and has lost sight of what is important!”

- Anna Meyers

(Standardbred Canada)

“Rural Ontario Is Furious With The Decision To Scrap The Slots Partnership”, Says MPP Rob Milligan

 

Progressive Conservative MPP Rob Milligan has parked himself firmly on the side of horse racing regarding the  politically contentious issue of the Slots at Racetracks program.

The open letter Milligan sent to his constituents in Northumberland-Quinte West to encourage their proactive support of  the racing and breeding industry appears below:

 

The Liberal government has recently announced the premature cancellation of
the Slots at Racetracks Partnership with the horse breeding and racing industry.
Let me be crystal clear on my reaction to this decision – I stand in complete
opposition to the Liberal attack on the equine industry!

Since the day that announcement was made, my PC colleagues and I have been
giving speeches, asking questions in the Legislature, meeting with constituents
from the equine industry – doing whatever it takes to ensure that this
government knows that rural Ontario is furious with the decision to scrap the
slots partnership – a decision which will cost the government more than three
dollars for every dollar they claim they will “save”. The fact is that scrapping
the partnership will cost the government more than $1.1 billion each and every
year, money that will have to be replaced by higher taxes or offset by reducing
public services.

Many people in this riding remember how the NDP government devastated the
horse racing and breeding industries in the early 1990’s by adding an oppressive
tax. That problem was fixed by the PC government which then went on to create
the slots partnership and, in so doing, ensured the prosperity and growth of
this important agricultural sector. The root of the problem is that the Liberal
government just doesn’t care about rural Ontario. They are comfortable firing
580 people at racetracks in small towns like Fort Erie and Sarnia (and even
larger cities such as Windsor) while claiming that building another casino in
Toronto will, magically, generate hundreds of millions of dollars of new
revenue. The reality is that revenue from the horse-racing partnership has been
steady and, in most years, shown a slight increase in revenues, while the
casinos have gone from generating $1.3 billion, per year, when Mr. McGuinty was
elected, to only $100 Million profit last year – yet THIS is the part of the
gaming industry Mr. McGuinty thinks should be expanded.

You can rest assured that I will continue to speak out against this assault
on our riding, and all the other ridings where horse breeding and racing create
a total of 60,000 jobs. I participated in the press conference and two public
rallies at Queen’s Park– anything to show the government just how unpopular a
move he has made and how dire the impact will be on rural Ontario. The good news
is, because of the minority situation, there is every reason to believe the next
election could be as soon as next spring – or even earlier – and voters will be
given another chance to pass judgment on the Liberal government. My PC
colleagues and I will be voting against the Budget because of this, and several
other, utterly unacceptable provisions it contains. In the meantime, I encourage
you to get as many friends and colleagues to write to the Premier and demand
that he reconsider this outrageous and totally illogical decision.

Please take the time to download a copy of the petition and get as many of
your friends, neighbours and co-workers to sign it. When you return them to me,
I will ensure that they are read at Queen’s Park and presented to the
government. When you consider just how many people in this riding earn their
living, directly or indirectly, from the equine industry, it is essential that
we demonstrate how widespread the opposition is to this expensive and
ill-considered decision by the Liberal government.

In the past fifty years, only one political party has demonstrated an
unswerving support for the equine industry – the second largest component of the
agricultural industry in Ontario. You have my personal commitment that that
support will continue as long as I’m your MPP.

Thank you.

Rob E. Milligan, MPP

 

OHRIA Telephone Town Halls Deemed Successful

More than 20,000 (20,345) Ontarians participated in the telephone town hall
meetings hosted recently by the Ontario Horse Racing Industry Association.
Both events were moderated by radio personality Carol Motts (themotts.ca).

Sue Leslie, President of the Ontario Horse Racing Industry Association was
joined by Glenn Sikura, Anna DeMarchi-Meyers, Bill O’Donnell, Bob Broadstock and
John LeBlanc who represent various segments of Ontario’s horse racing industry
to share their knowledge and answer questions.

The interest level was high among listeners as more than 160 Ontarians had
questions for industry representatives.

The town halls demonstrated there is strong support for horse racing in rural
and urban Ontario, and that those communities that currently host racetracks do
in fact support gaming, while urban areas are strongly opposed to hosting gaming
centres. Throughout Ontario it was clear that very few Ontarians support where
the government is going with gaming expansion.

Thursday April 12, 2012 call to urban communities:

Should the government of Ontario maintain the OLG Slots at Racetracks
Program with 20% of slots revenue going to the horsemen and racetracks? (Urban
Ontarians)

81% Yes; 19% No

Would you support a casino in your community? (Urban
Ontarians)

29% Yes; 71% No

Are you satisfied with the government’s proposed OLG gaming expansion?
(Urban Ontarians)

10% Yes; 90% No

Tuesday April 10, 2012 Call to rural racetrack
communities:

Should the government of Ontario maintain the OLG Slots at Racetracks
Program with 20% of slots revenue going to the horsemen and racetracks?
(Racetrack Communities)

92% Yes; 8% No

Would you support a casino in your community? (Racetrack
Communities)

67% Yes; 33% No

Are you satisfied with the government’s proposed OLG gaming expansion?
(Racetrack Communities)

9% Yes; 91% No

(OHRIA)

Ontario Agri Business Association Tells Ontario Government That Harness Racing Spends $30 Million With Feed Suppliers

 

Dear Minister Duncan,

The Ontario Agri Business Association (OABA) is a voluntary, not-for-profit
organization that serves to represent the interests of crop input retailers,
country grain elevator operators and feed manufacturer members working out of
331 locations and employing over 8,000 people in rural communities across
Ontario.

OABA members are very concerned about recent announcements regarding the
future of the slots-at-racetracks partnership. OABA’s members benefit from a
dynamic equine sector in the province and a decision to eliminate the
slots-at-racetracks program would have a significant, negative impact on many of
our member businesses.

A number of our member firms depend on the equine sector and the horse racing
industry in particular for their success. The growth of the racing industry has
been very beneficial at a time when feed production targeting traditional
livestock and poultry sectors is in decline. The harness racing industry alone
is worth over $30 million to Ontario’s feed manufacturers, distributors and
retailers. Equine feed tonnage lost due to this government decision will not be
replaced and will potentially result in the loss of jobs at our member
facilities.

The slots-at-racetracks program has been a successful government/industry
partnership that has helped create a vital and sustainable horse racing industry
in Ontario. This has resulted in positive economic spinoffs for a number of
stakeholders throughout rural economies. OABA strongly encourages the government
to reconsider changes to the slots-at-racetracks program. Rural Ontario cannot
afford to lose an important economic driver like the horse racing industry.

Respectfully submitted,

ONTARIO AGRI BUSINESS ASSOCIATION

David Buttenham
Chief Executive Officer

Cc:
Honourable Dalton McGuinty, Premier of Ontario
Brian Tropea,
General Manager, Ontario Harness Horse Association