The Letter below was sent on Friday afternoon from Sue Leslie, President of
the Ontario Horse Racing Industry Association to the Premier of Ontario
responding to a series of inaccurate comments Minister Duncan made about horse
racing, while attacking a significant foreign investor.
It causes great concern to the Ontario racing and breeding industry that
Dwight Duncan, Minister of Finance for the Province of Ontario, has chosen to
engage a major investor in our industry in a public mud-slinging match. Mr. Duncan’s comments are rife with innuendo and inaccurate
information. On behalf of our industry, we would like to clarify the facts that
were not included in Minister Duncan’s public response to Mr. Thomson.
To Minister Duncan’s comments that “Mr. Thomson is a “wealthy U.S. investor”
who has profited handsomely from the program funded by Ontario taxpayers”, there
is a key inaccuracy in this statement. The “program” to which Mr. Duncan
referred has not received one cent of funding from Ontario taxpayers. It is
funded from three sources: a percentage of the commissions earned on wagering on
horse racing inOntario, from a portion of commissions earned from slots gambling
at Ontario racetracks, and from fees paid by breeders, stallion owners and
horsemen active in racing in Ontario. It is NOT funded byOntario taxpayers.
To Mr. Duncan’s description of Mr. Thomson as a “ … ‘wealthy U.S. investor’
(his highlights) who has profited from the program”, we vehemently object to the
implied negative connotations in Minister Duncan’s comments. Our industry values
its investors – all of its investors. Like many other industries in Ontario,
horse racing and breeding in Ontario benefits significantly from international
investment. We believe that such investment enriches the province, and helps
build the Ontario economy. We have grave concerns that Mr. Duncan does not share
this same appreciation.
The very nature of Mr. Thomson’s investment means that he must keep stallions
and mares in Ontario and produce foals for racing in Ontario. This means jobs,
expenditures and taxes for Ontario to fund schools and hospitals.
Mr. Duncan’s comments that “History is littered with businesses that failed
to address changes to the economy and technology” implies that our industry is
in that category. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Significant investment in Ontario has created a world-class horse racing
industry that is supported by the most advanced technology available for
broadcast media, Internet gambling, and state of the art E-commerce platforms.
To be able to securely place a wager on live horse-racing in real time –
something we do every day, on every race – requires nothing less than the most
sophisticated technology infrastructure. Our industry has developed, and uses
technology comparable to the requirements of the Canadian banking sector.
To Mr. Duncan’s statement that the Government of Ontario is “ending a program
that took money that should go to Ontario schools and hospitals and gave it to,
among others, wealthy people like Mr. Thomson …” well this comment is both
inaccurate and offensive.
The Slots at Racetracks program contributes $1 billion dollars each year to
the costs of schools and hospitals in Ontario – money that would otherwise need
to come directly from taxpayer funds. The program also ensures that more than
60,000 people in the Ontario industry have jobs and can pay their fair share of
taxes to fund schools and hospitals for their families.
We would like to say to Mr. Thomson, “Please be assured that Mr. Duncan’s
comments to you are not shared by the Ontario racing and breeding industry. On
behalf of the industry, we would like to thank you and your fellow international
investors that have recognized the value of investing in Ontario. We hope to be
able to continue to deliver Value-4-Money, and a potential return on your
investment in Ontario. “
Mr. Duncan does not speak for our industry. The Ontario horse racing and
breeding industry is Open For Business!