July 29, 2016

OLG, SC Partner On Groom Award

January 9, 2016 – They are the unsung heroes of harness racing. They receive little recognition but are critical to the success of any horse in any stable. We entrust our prized animals with them and sometimes forget to let them know how much we appreciate everything they do for us.

They are the grooms. The relationship between the horse and groom is by far the closest. Grooms provide the daily care and attention to our equine athletes. They keep our horses physically healthy and mentally happy.

Grooms are the behind-the-scenes people who help keep the show running. They will work seven days a week, and sacrifice their holiday and family time to make sure the horses are properly cared for.

Standardbred Canada in partnership with the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation would like to recognize one outstanding groom at the 2015 O’Brien Awards.

Do you know someone who has worked in the industry for over five years, someone who treats their horses with kindness and outstanding care, regardless of the horse or its ability? The candidate should have a strong work ethic, be dependable, a good sportsman and be based in Canada. Candidates must be over the age of 19.

If this sounds like someone you know, please submit a letter of nomination (maximum 400 words) describing the candidate. Please include how long they have worked in the industry, where he/she has worked, names of some of the horses he/she has groomed. Tell us what makes this groom outstanding and unique. Please supply the names and contact information for two additional supporters.

A selection committee will determine the winner and he/she will be recognized at the O’Brien Awards on Saturday, February 13, 2016.

Deadline for submissions is Monday, January 25, 2016.

Please email your submissions to: kwvlaar@standardbredcanada.ca.

OLG Launches Horse-Themed Game

December 2, 2015 - The Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) announced on Wednesday, Dec. 2 that it is launching a new horse-themed product called Fire Horse on PlayOLG.ca.

The online slots game is the first of its kind on a new section of the website that is dedicated to horse racing. It includes information about the industry as well as a link to bet on horse racing online.

“Launching Fire Horse is the latest step OLG is taking in partnership with the horse racing industry and Ontario government to integrate horse racing into the provincial gaming strategy,” said Cal Bricker, OLG’s Senior Vice President of Horse Racing. “It represents progress on integration by using a new gaming platform to increase awareness of the industry while further demonstrating OLG’s support for horse racing in Ontario.”

Fire Horse is available to people who have registered with OLG’s online gaming website, PlayOLG.ca.

A news release from the OLG states that its first horse-themed product was developed in consultation with the horse racing industry and additional horse-themed products are expected to be released in the future.

The release states that, “Horse racing is vital to rural communities. The industry provides jobs for thousands of people across the province and is an important part of Ontario’s rich heritage. By integrating horse racing into gaming, OLG is helping to create a sustainable industry in the province for generations to come.”

(With files from OLG)
(Standardbred Canada)

OLG Seeks Input On Financial Model

October 16, 2015 - The horse racing industry in Ontario is being asked to provide input on a long-term financial model with respect to the ongoing integration and modernization of gaming in Ontario.

That news comes from a letter addressed to Ontario Horse Racing Industry Association (OHRIA) President Sue Leslie on Thursday (October 15) by Stephen Rigby, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG).

Rigby’s letter notes that OLG is “developing a co-branding marketing strategy” that involves the launch of “horse-themed products through our Lottery and Internet business channels.” He went on to state that the next area of focus for horse racing’s integration within the province’s gaming strategy is developing “a financial model to provide a long-term funding framework,” exploring options and avenues “that help create economic confidence in a transparent and accountable way, beyond 2019.”

Rigby noted that he has discussed this focus with Cal Bricker, OLG’s Senior Vice President of Horse Racing, and has asked him to lead “a collaborative discussion on this subject with [OHRIA's] help, and members of the industry.”

The full text of the letter appears below.


Dear Ms. Leslie,

As you know, over the past eight months, the government, OLG and OHRIA have been working closely on key elements of horse racing integration.

All parties are engaged in a dialogue with the industry on areas of mutual interest. Through these discussions, we have accomplished a great deal. We are defining how horse racing fits into the modernization framework and laying a foundation for the industry’s success.

Today, OLG has a new horse racing division, led by a new Senior Vice President. We are developing a co-branding marketing strategy and preparing to launch horse-themed products through our Lottery and Internet business channels. We have also signed leases with almost all racetracks in Ontario.

In addition, the regulatory merger of the Ontario Racing Commission and the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario is moving forward and the government’s five-year Horse Racing Partnership Plan continues to support the industry.

The next area of focus is developing a financial model to provide a long-term funding framework. This includes exploring options that help create economic confidence in a transparent and accountable way, beyond 2019.

The government has asked OLG to provide recommendations on this topic by the end of the year.

We would like your ongoing input. I have asked Cal Bricker, OLG’s Senior Vice President of Horse Racing to lead a collaborative discussion on this subject with your help, and members of the industry.

As President of OHRIA, I would ask that you circulate this letter to your Board of Directors and membership. Horse racing is vital to Ontario’s rural communities and is an important part of our province’s rich heritage. Our ongoing collaboration will help create a sustainable industry in Ontario for generations to come.

We look forward to working with you and the broader industry on this matter.

Stephen Rigby
President and Chief Executive Officer
OLG

 

Progress On Integration In Ontario

September 21, 2015 - The Board of Directors at the Ontario Horse Racing Industry Association (OHRIA) feel some optimism that progress is being made after meeting with two government agencies tasked with integrating horse racing into the Province’s overall gaming strategy.

Jean Major, CEO of both the Ontario Racing Commission (ORC) and Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) and David Phillips, Director of Strategic Engagement at AGCO, along with their colleagues updated the OHRIA Board on the amalgamation of the ORC into the AGCO. The transition for AGCO to become the Provincial regulator for the horse racing industry, scheduled to be completed by April 1, 2016, was confirmed to be on target and updates on the necessary change to legislation and the overall transition strategy were discussed.

Stephen Rigby, President and CEO at OLG and Cal Bricker, Senior Vice President of Horse Racing at OLG spoke to the Board with regard to the importance and expectation of governance for the industry and the advancement and timelines for the integration of horse racing into Ontario’s gaming strategy.

John Snobelen, Chair of the Industry Governance Committee (IGC) updated the OHRIA Board on the concept and vision of the new governance model for the industry. Work in this regard is ongoing however a framework has been established.

“Each Director on the OHRIA Board was steadfast in expressing to both AGCO and OLG that the industry needs progress to happen and to happen quickly,” commented Sue Leslie, President and Chair of OHRIA, “Upon hearing the updates at the meeting I am confident that our message was received and I am confident that Mr. Rigby and Mr. Bricker are committed to timely integration and a long-term strategy for the horse racing industry as quickly as possible.”

(OHRIA)

OLG Meets With Horse Racing

September 11, 2015 - In a release issued Thursday, the Ontario Horse Racing Industry Association (OHRIA) has confirmed meeting with new Senior Vice President of Horse Racing, Cal Bricker.

According to OHRIA’s release, Bricker spent an hour meeting with Sue Leslie, President of OHRIA on Monday, August 31.

“The perspective, insight and knowledge of the industry that Sue has will be invaluable to me in this role,” Bricker said. “I’m looking forward to learning about the strengths and unique characteristics of the Ontario horse racing industry by visiting communities across the province and meeting as many industry members as possible.”

Although the meeting was categorized as an introduction, OHRIA stated that the focus quickly shifted to the need for ongoing progress on integration and communications to the industry.

“Cal has sharp intuition and significant leadership experience working in industries that are supported by membership-based organizations like OHRIA,” Leslie said. “I am confident that OLG’s President and CEO, Stephen Rigby, has hired an executive who is open to collaborating with the industry to help set us on a path for long-term success. I look forward to working closely with him.”

The full release from OHRIA follows.


OLG Update
September 10, 2015

Building Strong Relationships to Support Horse Racing Integration

OLG and the horse racing industry continue to work together to integrate horse racing into the provincial gaming strategy. For many months, work has been underway to build strong relationships with the industry and lay the foundation for success.

Building on the momentum developed so far, Cal Bricker, OLG’s new Senior Vice President of Horse Racing met with Sue Leslie, President of the Ontario Horse Racing Industry Association (OHRIA) on Monday, August 31. The two executives spent an hour sharing information and discussing the importance of moving integration forward.

“The perspective, insight and knowledge of the industry that Sue has will be invaluable to me in this role,” Bricker said. “I’m looking forward to learning about the strengths and unique characteristics of the Ontario horse racing industry by visiting communities across the province and meeting as many industry members as possible.”

While the meeting served as an introduction for the two executives, focus quickly shifted to the need for ongoing progress on integration and communications to the industry.

“Cal has sharp intuition and significant leadership experience working in industries that are supported by membership-based organizations like OHRIA,” Leslie said. “I am confident that OLG’s President and CEO, Stephen Rigby, has hired an executive who is open to collaborating with the industry to help set us on a path for long-term success. I look forward to working closely with him.”

Bricker and Leslie are both members of the Industry Executive Committee, a group of OLG and industry executives who meet bi-weekly to provide decisive leadership and guidance to the many areas involved in integration. The committee is chaired by Stephen Rigby and includes Sue Leslie, Cal Bricker, Michael Keegan (OLG), Jean Major (AGCO), John Snobelen (Ontario Horse Racing), Jim Lawson (Woodbine Entertainment Group) and Hugh Mitchell (Western Fair District – a member of the Ontario Standardbred Alliance). The Industry Executive Committee supports the work of the Government of Ontario and its Crown agencies to help develop the industry and grow the horse racing customer base.

Bricker, who began his new role at OLG on September 1, will spend his first weeks with the organization learning about OLG’s involvement with the horse racing industry and the progress that is being made on integration.

Bricker is making it a priority to visit racetracks. He attended the OLG-sponsored Canadian Millions Sales Stakes Day at Woodbine Racetrack on September 2, along with Stephen Rigby and Philip Olsson, Chair of OLG’s Board of Directors. OLG’s sponsorship and attendance at industry events is a tangible demonstration of our commitment to sustainable horse racing in the province.

In the coming weeks, Bricker will begin visiting tracks across the province to see firsthand the critical role they play in support of thriving communities across Ontario.

(Standardbred Canada)

OLG Names Senior VP Of Horse Racing

August 25, 2015 - The Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. announced on Monday, August 24 that it has hired Cal Bricker as its new Senior Vice President of Horse Racing.

Building on the work that has been underway over the past several months, Bricker will provide dedicated leadership as OLG continues to integrate horse racing into the provincial gaming strategy, according to an OLG release on the hiring.

According to his Linkedin profile, Bricker served as Vice President of Government Affairs and Communications for Waste Management in Canada from 2003 to 2014. Prior to that, he worked in Public affairs, for Labatt Breweries of Canada from 1992 to 2001, and Labatt USA from 2001 to 2003. Bricker has a PhD, International Relations, from the University of Alberta.

According to the OLG, Bricker will strengthen the OLG’s efforts to support industry self-governance by focusing on the ongoing development of strong working partnerships with the horse racing industry, government and regulatory bodies.

Touching on Bricker’s background, the OLG release states that Bricker has experience working in complex business environments that generate revenue while protecting the public interest. The release goes on to state that Bricker’s background in building partnerships among diverse stakeholders with multiple interests will serve OLG well, as the corporation works to create the conditions for sustainable horse racing industry in Ontario.

Bricker’s first day at OLG will be September 1, 2015.

(OLG)
(Standardbred Canada)

Table gambling, additional slots at Woodbine one step closer to reality

June 30, 2015 - An expanded casino at Woodbine Racetrack moved one step closer to reality after sailing through Mayor John Tory’s inner circle.

The executive committee, a cabinet-like body of Toronto councillors, approved a proposal to allow table gambling and up to 2,000 more slot machines at the facility. The expansion must still pass full council next week, where social costs will again be weighed against economic gains.

Mr. Tory has consistently said he is open to an expanded casino in the city’s northwest corner only if it comes in the context of a broader entertainment complex.

“I am interested in ‎this because of jobs and because of what the gambling can do to serve as a catalyst to attract additional investment,” he said Tuesday. “My principal motivation for this is attracting jobs to a part of the city that desperately needs them.”

A staff report recommended council support for an expanded facility at Woodbine, noting that the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation had estimated that ‎the city’s annual revenues could climb from $15.5-million to between $22.5-million and $26.5-million.

The expansion would allow for the introduction of table gambling, with up to 300 eight-seat live dealer tables, and a rise to a maximum of 5,000 slots‎, more than double the number now at Woodbine.

Mr. Tory’s support for expansion was echoed by his executive, ‎but came after sharp questions about gambling addiction, other options for Woodbine and whether any hotels, retail or other corollary development could be guaranteed.

After a marathon meeting, the proposal was eventually passed late Tuesday by a 10-3 majority. It is expected to get a rougher ride when it lands before the full council.

Downtown councillor Joe Cressy, who is not on the executive committee, would not predict how the next round of the debate will go. But he urged his fellow councillors not to buy into what he characterized as a dying industry that makes a disproportionate amount of its money off problem gamblers.

“There are serious issues, social and health, associated with casinos,” he said. “Why would we bring in a form of economic growth that preys on those who are at their weakest point.”

That argument is likely to be a foreshadow of the coming debate, where worries about the social costs will again be pitted against those who say that the economically depressed Rexdale area needs the jobs.

Local councillor Vincent Crisanti said Tuesday that his ward was strongly in favour of expansion.

“The electronic casino at Woodbine has been operating without incident‎ since 2000,” he said, acknowledging later that he couldn’t be sure some gamblers hadn’t got in over their heads.

“The [Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation] will continue to invest in the responsible gaming initiatives that will mitigate those concerns.”

Mr. Crisanti predicted the push to expand Woodbine would pass full council, noting that it came close a few years ago, when it was connected to a highly controversial ‎proposal to put a casino downtown.

(With Files from The Globe and Mail)

OLG Pens Letter To Horse Racing

June 26, 2015 - In a letter dated Thursday (June 25), representatives from the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) and the Ontario Horse Racing Industry Association (OHRIA) provided an update on the process of integrating horse racing with the province’s gaming strategy.

The letter appears below.


A Message To The Ontario Horse Racing Industry

For the first time, representatives from the horse racing industry, the Government of Ontario and crown agencies are working together in support of a sustainable industry.

Following government direction first announced in October 2013, the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) and the Ontario Horse Racing Industry Association (OHRIA), are working with the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario, the Ontario Racing Commission, government and the broader horse racing industry on a number of initiatives that will help develop the industry and grow the horse racing customer base. The government, OLG and OHRIA restated their support for integration at a meeting in February 2015.

The overall goal of integration is to build the foundation for a sustainable horse racing industry in Ontario, but achieving that goal will take time and a significant amount of work. For many months, OLG and OHRIA have been working with the government to lay the groundwork for success.

As part of this collaborative effort, a committee structure has been established to guide the many areas involved in integration. Comprised of senior representatives from both OLG and the industry, the Horse Racing Industry Executive Committee is providing decisive leadership and guidance by:

  • Creating a business model for integration that is focused on stability
  • Determining an appropriate funding framework to ensure long-term sustainability
  • Providing advice to the government and supporting future legislative changes
  • Partnering with the industry to optimize branding and build public awareness about horse racing
  • Reviewing and assessing new horse-themed gaming products

The Industry Executive Committee meets bi-weekly. Joining us on the committee are: Preet Dhindsa (OLG), Richard Carson (OLG), Michael Keegan (OLG), Tina MacMillan (OLG), Jean Major (AGCO), John Snobelen (Ontario Horse Racing), Steven Lehman (Ontario Racing Commission), Jim Lawson (Woodbine Entertainment Group) and Hugh Mitchell (Western Fair District).

Our committee is supported by the work of other groups, including the Interim Governance Committee (IGC). Chaired by John Snobelen, the IGC is developing options for improving industry self-governance and is building the capacity necessary for effective partnerships with OLG. Read a recent update from John here.

One of our committee’s objectives is to begin to communicate regularly with members of OHRIA and the public about the progress being made on integration so that we can build a narrative to increase confidence in the long-term future of horse racing. We are working together on several initiatives and will have more to discuss in the coming weeks.

Sincerely,

Stephen Rigby, President and CEO, OLG and Chair of the Industry Executive Committee

Sue Leslie, President and Chair, OHRIA and member of the Industry Executive Committee

 

Bitonti On Branding Discussions

June 12, 2015 -

Spokesman Tony Bitonti has said that the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. is collaborating with the provincial horse racing industry in an effort to come up with branding options in conjunction with racing’s integration into the OLG’s gaming modernization process.

Bitonti’s comment have come via an article on the matter by the Toronto Star.

“OLG is working with the horse racing industry to explore branding options for horse racing,” Bitonti was quoted as saying. “This is all part of our commitment to the integration of horse racing into the provincial gaming strategy.”

The Toronto Star report centres on a claim that there had been some consideration for the OLG’s corporate name to be adjusted to reflect the inclusion of horse racing.

The article quoted Bitonti as saying that “OLG is not rebranding or changing its name.”

Instead, Bitonti said that the OLG “will use its marketing expertise to explore an effective consumer-facing brand to support a sustainable horse racing industry in Ontario.”

(With files from the Toronto Star and Standardbred Canada)

Industry Governance Committee Formed

June 9, 2015 -

In an open letter to Ministers Leal and Sousa, John Snobelen outlines the mandate of the Horse Racing Interim Governance Committee as it pertains to the integration of horse racing and gaming.


June 1, 2015

The Honourable Jeff Leal
Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs

The Honourable Charles Sousa
Minister of Finance

Dear Ministers:

Thank you for your recent announcement of an Interim Governance Committee to assist in the integration of horse racing and gaming.  At your request, I am pleased to serve as the independent chair of the committee.

As you know, Premier Wynne announced the government’s intention to integrate horse racing into gaming in October 2013. Integration will benefit both the industry and the provincial gaming strategy.

Earlier this year, both of you and Minister Meilleur led a meeting with the Ontario Horse Racing Industry Association (OHRIA) to discuss initiatives that will forward integration.

These initiatives include transferring the regulation of horse racing to the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO), expanding the mandate of the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) to include horse racing and improving industry governance in partnership with the Ontario Horse Racing Industry Association (OHRIA).

These structural changes will require approval by the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.  In advance of consideration by the Legislature, several integration imperatives require input from the industry. These include:

-              Developing options for improving industry self-governance;
-              Building industry capacity to effectively partner with OLG;
-              Exploring opportunities for increasing pari-mutuel wagering;
-              Establishing measures to ensure accountable use of taxpayers dollars;
-              Providing advice on non-regulatory transition to OLG; and
-              Considering other issues related to integration.

The Horse Racing Interim Governance Committee will consult broadly on these issues with representatives of the horse racing and gaming industries: OHRIA, OLG, ORC and AGCO.

OMAFRA has researched the governance and regulation of horse racing in other jurisdictions and the committee will benefit from this effort.

The committee includes Sue Leslie, representing the Ontario Horse Racing Industry Association, and Michael Keegan, representing the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation.

In charging this committee, you specifically referenced the need to be mindful of the impact of horse racing on the economy of rural Ontario.  With this in mind, I am pleased to report that the committee will benefit from the assistance of Mr. Greg Walling, who brings a wealth of experience in the economics of our smaller track venues.

The committee understands the urgency in addressing these issues in cooperation with OLG, AGCO and ORC.  We will begin our work immediately.

I will update you on a regular basis and will provide specific recommendations as soon as we are able to make them.

Thank you for your continued support of and advocacy for the Ontario horse racing industry.  Your commitment to a successful and sustainable future for horse racing is encouraging to the thousands of people who proudly earn their living working to continue the great traditions of horse racing in Ontario.

Sincerely,
John Snobelen

Cc:          The Honourable Madeleine Meilleur, Attorney General
Stephen Rigby, President and CEO, Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation
Jean Major, CEO, Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario
Steve Lehman, Executive Director, Ontario Racing Commission
Scott Thompson, Deputy Minister, Ministry of Finance
Deb Stark, Deputy Minister, Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs

(OHR)