May 29, 2017

Gateway Now Operating SW Bundle

May 9, 2017 – The Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation and Gateway Casinos & Entertainment Limited each announced today (Tuesday, May 9) that Gateway has signed a 20-year Casino Operating and Services Agreement with the OLG and has purchased the business and assets of the Southwest Gaming Bundle. Gateway has taken over day-to-day operations and the assets of the Southwest Gaming Bundle, effective today.

Gateway and the OLG each issued press releases regarding the matter today. The contents of the releases appear below.


OLG signs 20-year Casino Operating and Services Agreement with Gateway Casinos & Entertainment Limited for Southwest Gaming Bundle Assets


Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) has signed a 20-year Casino Operating and Services Agreement (COSA) with Gateway Casinos & Entertainment Limited (Gateway). Under the agreement, Gateway takes over day-to-day operations and the assets of the Southwest Gaming Bundle, effective today (May 9, 2017).

The Southwest Gaming Bundle includes:

• OLG Slots at Western Fair District
• OLG Slots at Clinton Raceway
• OLG Slots at Dresden Raceway
• OLG Slots at Hanover Raceway
• OLG Slots at Woodstock Raceway
• OLG Casino Point Edward

On December 13, 2016, OLG announced it had selected Gateway as the service provider for the Southwest Gaming Bundle. Since then, OLG and Gateway have been working towards concluding a Transition and Asset Purchase Agreement and entering into the COSA.

OLG has worked with Gateway to help ensure that transferring employees have a smooth and seamless transition. This includes the requirement for Gateway to retain transferring employees for a period of no less than 12 months in their current position and geographic location, and to provide eligible employees with benefits and a registered pension plan.

At more than $2.2 billion annually, OLG provides the Ontario government with its largest source of non-tax revenue. Modernization helps OLG provide more money to Ontario for key government services.

(OLG)


Gateway Casinos & Entertainment Becomes Canada’s Largest and Most Diversified Gaming and Entertainment Company with Ontario Expansion


Gateway Casinos & Entertainment Limited (“Gateway”) has signed a 20-year Casino Operating and Services Agreement (COSA) with the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (“OLG”) and has purchased the business and assets of the Southwest Gaming Bundle. Gateway will take over the day-to-day operations effective today. The expansion into Ontario represents the next exciting chapter in Gateway’s successful growth strategy making Gateway Canada’s largest and most diversified gaming company.

“Today is a very exciting day and an important milestone for Gateway as we expand our footprint into Ontario with the completion of the transition process in Southwestern Ontario. We thank the OLG for the hard work throughout the transition process and we look forward to our long-term partnership,” said Tony Santo, Gateway’s Chief Executive Officer. “On behalf of our 4,200 employees in Western Canada, we are very proud to officially welcome the OLG colleagues to our Gateway team.”

Gabriel de Alba, Gateway’s Executive Chairman, said, “Gateway’s growth strategy and focus on a superior customer experience revolves around investing in the company’s unique gaming properties and creating a broader attraction across numerous demographics. Our success has resulted in significant job creation across the communities where we operate in Western Canada. We are bringing this same approach to Southwestern Ontario with a planned investment of over $200 Million to revitalize and enhance the gaming and entertainment landscape.”

In December 2016, Gateway was selected by OLG as the successful service provider in the Southwest and North Gaming Bundles. The Southwest Gaming Bundle includes a casino in Point Edward and slots in Woodstock (at Woodstock Raceway), London (at the Western Fair District), Clinton (at Clinton Raceway), Dresden (at Dresden Raceway) and Hanover (at Hanover Raceway). The North Gaming Bundle will transition to Gateway in late May 2017 and includes casinos in Thunder Bay and Sault Ste. Marie, slots in Sudbury (at Sudbury Downs) and two planned casino builds in Kenora and North Bay. The Ontario acquisitions are expected to be immediately accretive to Gateway’s top-line growth, EBITDA margin and full year earnings.

The expansion into Ontario is the next step in the continued evolution of Gateway. In 2010, The Catalyst Capital Group Inc. (“Catalyst”), Gateway’s ownership group, took Gateway and its 9 properties under management to rebuild and restructure the company. A focus on superior customer experience and measured growth has seen Gateway’s portfolio expand to 28 properties once the Southwest and North Gaming Bundles are fully transitioned and developed.

Central to Gateway’s success has been the development of signature casino and restaurant brands that have dramatically improved the gaming customer experience while generating important new customer segments. With transition complete, Gateway will now focus on plans to invest over $200 Million in Southwestern Ontario communities to introduce the proprietary casino and restaurant signature brands.

A customer celebration will be held on June 22nd, 2017 at all Gateway’s Ontario sites in the Southwest and North. The daylong celebration will include new and exciting promotions and prizes, live entertainment, Gateway merchandise giveaways and delicious food and drink specials. To learn more about the celebration on June 22nd please visit www.gatewaycasinos.com.

A commitment to responsible gambling is integral to how Gateway operates. All Gateway properties in British Columbia and Ontario hold RG Check accreditation. Together with OLG and other government partners, Gateway will continue to implement responsible gambling initiatives at all properties across Canada.

(Gateway Casinos & Entertainment Limited)

Ontario Breeders Lawsuit Continues

April 27, 2017 – Trot Insider has received an update on the status of the legal proceedings between a group of Ontario breeders against the Province of Ontario and the Ontario Lottery And Gaming Corp. (OLG).

The factum below was filed in Ontario court yesterday (Wednesday, April 26).

In February 2015, the group of breeders won a decision seeking broad production of internal documents from Ontario and OLG concerning the cancellation of the Slots at Racetracks Program (SARP). The motion was brought by the breeders in their lawsuit for damages caused by the abrupt cancellation of SARP in March 2012. The Standardbred breeders have alleged that Ontario and OLG made a systemic series of representations about SARP over a number of years that were ultimately breached when the SARP revenue-sharing partnership was terminated.

The factum filed references some of the internal documents and notes that a number of individuals have been served summonses to testify on this case, including former Minister of Finance Dwight Duncan and Don Drummond, author of the now-famous Drummond Report. The factum claims that the section discussing horse racing in the report was crafted by the Ministry of Finance.

87. In the weeks and months before this report was released, the Ministry of Finance had written this narrative for inclusion in the Drummond Report. 57 Far from being the independent by-product of wide-ranging mandate to “delve into almost every corner of the government’s activities and to think long and hard about how government can work better for the benefit of everyone in the province”,58 the Drummond Report was — as least as far as SARP was concerned — a scripted contrivance.

88. The SARP language in the Drummond Report was, in its material parts, written by Ministry of Finance functionaries entirely devoid of independent analysis or thought to justify a preordained result. It was the opposite of independent and thoughtful. It was a political cover up for a formed intention to breach an agreement knowing great harm would result to a politicially expedient rural Ontario.

The factum is available here in PDF format or embedded below.


Harness Racing Commercial Unveiled

April 21, 2017 – A brand new commercial featuring harness racing will soon be featured and broadcast on screens and devices around Ontario.

Unveiled for the first time at a special screening at Flamboro Downs on Thursday night (April 20), the commercial, titled The Thrill of Winning, is a collaborative effort between Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) and Ontario Racing.

“We don’t think of this as an OLG commercial as much as an Ontario Racing commercial we get to be proud supporters of,” Adriana Spatzner, OLG’s Director of Product Development & Marketing – Horse Racing told Trot Insider. “We really wanted to create awareness for horse racing because we feel that’s something that’s lacking. We wanted to deliver the excitement and passion of horse racing and we wanted to do it in a meaningful way where people would either remember past experiences and remind themselves that they miss having gone to the track or if they’re brand new to the sport it would create enough interest that they’d be like ‘yeah, I have to go to the races, that looks really exciting.'”

The commercial was shot over three days in December 2016 at Flamboro Downs, but the prep work for the spot started with the writing of the script in October. The ad will debut for the general public in early May. Trot Insider will post the commercial once it’s publicly available.

Marketing agency BBDO Toronto worked with director Jason Van Bruggen of film house Suneeva to produce the spot that was designed to tell a story that captures harness racing and its roller coaster of emotions. BBDO also worked with Ontario Racing and OLG on the 2016 ‘Your Horse’ campaign.

“There was an insight about driving home talking about the heartaches and the losses that participants go through with horse racing,” said BBDO’s Jeff Cheung, “so we just kind of wanted to showcase that a little bit different than what we did the year [with Ontario Racing] before where we focused on picking your horse. We wanted to tell more that journey, and that story of the connection that happens between driver and horse.”

“I was given a wonderful script by these guys, which is the backbone of the commercial and hopefully I was able to add some value conceptually in terms of the look and feel of the commercial,” noted Van Bruggen.

Much like the development of a horse for the races, the process for creating a 60-second commercial takes significantly more time than most people removed from the process can understand.

“I think the start of the process was October and then we ended up filming in December so I’d say the entire process of filming took about two months and then we had to actually finish the spots and then go into editing and go into post-production,” said BBDO’s Rana Chatterjee. “We started that probably in March, that took another month or so. It takes quite a bit of time to bring these things to life, you know, and then run everything up the ranks and make sure everyone’s happy with everything as we’re going through the process. It’s quite a process; I’m sure most people aren’t familiar with how much work goes into the average commercial that you see on TV.”

While the filming at Flamboro took just three days, it wouldn’t have been possible without the co-operation of the track and the horsemen involved.

“We were ecstatic in doing what we could and certainly we worked really well with the team from Ontario Racing,” noted Flamboro General Manager John Stolte. “The horsemen were very cooperative. They all wanted to be involved, it was just at what level we could get them involved and obviously there were racing opportunities going on when we were closed here and not racing so we were trying to get the best of both worlds — having them involved here as well as looking after the livelihoods and opportunities to race elsewhere. But they were very accommodating, very flexible and did everything they could to make it work for us.”

One of the horsemen involved in the commercial is driver Scott Young, who gets a fair share of face time in the commercial.

“Marnie Bochenek, the [Flamboro] Paddock Judge, told me that there was a commercial going on and asked me if I’d like to partake in it and I said sure, I will,” Young told Trot Insider. “And after I said OK then the director and his people talked to us and they asked me if I’d like to be the main guy and I said ‘absolutely’ again. I mean, if I can be on camera I’ve got no problem with it.”

Young is featured as a competitor experiencing the agony of defeat, resiliently bouncing back and eventually emerging victorious: a classic, powerful yet approachable and familiar feeling.

“It’s the feeling of winning, the feeling of being at the track and it produces these up and downs and this range of emotions, and I think that’s what attracts us to sports in general,” noted Chatterjee. “In a way we kind of wanted to show that horse racing, in all its beauty and majesty, has all these ups and downs and ebbs and flows of all the other great sports that we love to watch. And wanted to associate that with victory, that feeling of watching your horse cross the finish line first.”

The key for director Van Bruggen was to capture that emotion and present it in a novel and realistic package.

“For me the thing that interested me most about this was the story of the driver and the horse and the relationship between them and the audience but the fact that these are guys that go out there and race in all sorts of weather, in all sorts of conditions, day in day out…it’s a real job and it takes a lot of perseverance and it doesn’t always break your way and there’s a lot of variables you can’t control. But you have to pick yourself up everyday and do your job.

“The human element of the story really interested me. It represented an opportunity to show someone who’s down but not out and was able to sort of maintain faith in himself and his horse and win at the end of the day.”

Never involved with horse racing shoots in the past, Van Bruggen did come into this project with a deep respect for the equine-human bond.

“I direct sports commercials, I don’t have a background in horse racing. My wife rides horses and we have a farm, and I have a huge admiration for horses as such and I really respect the relationship between a driver and horse and the subtlety and nuance that goes into bringing out the best in each other and how special a relationship that can be. Physically it was very interesting to me because it’s a beautiful and majestic sport and they’re amazing animals and I loved the visual potential of this spot.”

One thing that everyone involved with this commercial can agree on is how thrilled they are with the outcome.

“I’m elated, I think the job that Scott [Young] did was phenomenal and all the drivers were amazing,” said Spatzner. “But I just think it really shows the passion that there is in this sport, the skill and the heart…it’s just an exciting commercial. I couldn’t be happier.”

The team at BBDO was as interested in seeing the finished piece as they were to watch the reactions of those around them taking it in for the first time.

“We feel great about it. Seeing the finished product…it’s weird when you see it from the conception stage to when we were actually filming it to the final product, it’s like night and day,” said Cheung. “You forget what happens during that journey. To see it all come together, and all the pieces, it’s the most rewarding part because then at an event like today you see the faces of the people that worked on it and see their reactions…it’s been great.”

“To echo Jeff’s point, I remember just even driving in here again and remembering going to Marnie’s barn and just getting a sense of the place,” stated Chatterjee. “And you think back to that, when we didn’t even have a spot. Now we have this fully blown-up thing. And it’s really great to see the whole community in and around Flamboro and everybody coming together to help create this story. And it’s really nice to be here and actually see all of the people involved with the track and all of the community around it, sort of rallying around this piece that we all helped to create. It’s a great feeling. And to echo Adriana’s point, I really hope it rallies people around the sport and gives the sport the attention it deserves here in Ontario.”

“It’s great, when this came about I thought it was a fantastic idea and they should be doing more things like this,” stated Young. “Whether people are watching a Jays game or a Leafs game or whatever, and if this was to come on it’s absolutely going to catch people’s eye and hopefully they’ll come to the track.”

Stolte knows that only the diehard harness racing fans will (possibly) recognize Flamboro as the backdrop but he too understands the value of such a strong creative piece for the good of the industry.

“I think it’s a great product. It really drives some emotion out, and you see the bond between the horse and the driver and the whole story about winning and what it takes. I think it looks great and it’s going to resonate really well.”

Most commercials featuring any sort of racing are set during the day. This one will be different, completely by design.

“Standardbred racing hasn’t really been featured like this. Traditionally when you see horse racing commercials from around the world, more times than not it’s featuring thoroughbred racing. I think one thing that we’re really, really excited about is, working with our director Jason, he really thought about how to bring this sport to light in a unique way,” said Chatterjee. “And one of things he thought about was shooting at night. That’s when the guys actually race, and the reality of it makes the commercial just feel more cinematic, moody. It just draws you in a little bit more to tell that story.”

“I was the guy that pushed for the nighttime shoot and I was very keen on that,” admitted Van Bruggen. “Having the big, beautiful stadium lights on and the backlit breath that only really come to life in the winter. The nighttime seemed like a more interesting visual opportunity to me and brought out the drama and teased out the deepest value in the script that we had. It also to me represented when I went out here, I scouted at night…so I felt it was also representative of what harness racing looked like on many nights and on major nights for sure when people are out here at night watching the race.

“I also want to add that I really wanted to do justice to the experience of these drivers to make that authentic, and I worked with real drivers and put them in real situations and I wanted to feel like this was something they could have ownership over, have pride in and feel was an accurate representation of their experience on the track.”

The importance of presenting harness racing accurately was of utmost importance to the developers of the commercial in order to pay proper respect to the process people go through to develop the equine stars and compete with them night in and night out.

“They were terrific, a wonderful bunch of guys, a terrific community out here,” Van Bruggen said of the horsemen at Flamboro. “I met all the trainers and drivers and everyone and I had a really socially rewarding four days out here. I interacted with all of them…it’s a warm and welcoming bunch of people and they were very happy to be profiled within the broader sport of horse racing. It was a wonderful rapport that we built.

“I hope [the commercial] worked hard for the sport and the people involved in it. They’re good people and I loved watching it, I found it super-exciting and it was nice to be able to celebrate a sport that wasn’t as glamourous or universally recognized as thoroughbred racing, and I felt there was an opportunity there to tell a richer story and I hope it gives back and gets these people more of the recognition and everything they deserve.”

The ad that was shown at Flamboro was the 60-second version that will be shown in movie theatres. A 30-second spot has also been produced for TV.

“We’re going to be on TV, we’re going to be in cinemas during the month of June, we’re going to be on the web in social media,” said Spatzner of the media plan for the commercial. “We actually have some billboards that we’ve already brought to market and some other sponsorships and print advertising as well so we’ve got a pretty good comprehensive plan behind it.

“I don’t know how many people know as much as they should about harness racing in the province, particularly given we have so much harness racing throughout the province. And I hope that this shows it in a way that really drives what a great sport it is. Because people are missing out, this is a fantastic sport and people should really engage with it because it’s so unique to our province that we have this level of horse racing here and I think the industry puts out an amazing product so I really hope that’s what the ad demonstrates.”

Lawson On Partnering With OLG

April 16, 2017 – “We just have to work with OLG and the regulator to make sure these new products are ones that are thought through, and we’re working on them. I mentioned parlay betting and also lottery-style products on horse racing, those types of things, I think those are coming.‎”

Jim Lawson, CEO of Woodbine Entertainment, is “cautiously optimistic” about the push to integrate horse racing with the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp., with hopes that the changes will generate revenue for racing and excite customers.

In a Toronto Sun article, Lawson also describes the possibility of single-game sports betting legislation being passed as being “a real game-changer” and notes that Woodbine has the technology in place via its HPI betting system to be a player.

“We could run single-game sports betting off the backbone of that,” Lawson told the Toronto Sun. “Our tote systems, our whole information technology systems are sophisticated enough to do that. We’re hoping and thinking that there is a role for single-game sports betting and the importance to horse racing is we be part of it rather than be cannibalized.

“We’ve been engaged in a number of conversations. We’ve been proactive to show that our technology can do it. We’d like racing to even be a part of a pro-line type bet today where the parlay betting is allowed. Is it imminent? I’m not sure.”

Lawson also discussed the competitive entertainment landscape in Toronto, the challenge of introducing new people to racing and potential development plans for the 683-acre Woodbine site, which includes a 5,000-seat music venue.

“You can envision the day where it’s a huge, very vibrant community, with the catalyst for all of it being the gaming and entertainment expansion, which we’re hoping to start as early as the end of this year,” said Lawson.

To read the Toronto Sun article in its entirety, click here.

(With files from Toronto Sun)

Today: OR To Hold Info Session And Release Letter Of Intent

February 6, 2017 – Ontario Racing has issued an invitation for participation in a long-term funding information session. The session will take place this Friday (February 10) and will include the public unveiling of the nonbinding legal document which underpins the proposed long-term funding agreement for horse racing in Ontario.

The contents of the OR release appear below.


Ontario Racing Invites You To Participate In A Long-Term Funding Information Session

As part of Ontario Racing’s long term funding industry consultations, we heard from industry participants that increased transparency and information disclosure was important and needed.

In response to industry requests, Ontario Racing has worked with our partners at Ontario Lottery and Gaming (OLG) and the provincial government to release the nonbinding legal document which underpins the proposed long term funding agreement for horseracing in Ontario.

This Letter of Intent (LOI) will be released publicly on Friday, February 10, 2017, and an overview of this document will be provided via a webinar at 2 p.m. Ontario Racing will facilitate this conversation, and legal counsel from OLG and the Woodbine Entertainment Group (WEG) will be on hand to provide a detailed explanation of this agreement to interested industry participants.

You can register for the webinar here. We look forward to your participation.

(SC)


What: Long-term funding information session – Letter of Intent
Date: Friday, February 10, 2017
Time: 2 p.m. EST
Registration: via gotowebinar

OLG Selects Service Provider For North, Southwest Gaming Bundles

December 13, 2016 – Following a competitive procurement process, Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) has selected Gateway Casinos & Entertainment Limited (Gateway) as the service provider for the North and Southwest Gaming Bundles.

“Today’s announcement of a service provider for the North and Southwest Gaming Bundles is a significant step forward in OLG’s modernization,” said Stephen Rigby, OLG’s President and CEO. “The investments Gateway will make in the bundles will help ensure the best possible gaming experience for customers while OLG continues to deliver on its commitment to the people and Province of Ontario.”

“We are very excited and pleased to partner with OLG in the modernization of Ontario’s gaming industry,” said Tony Santo, Gateway’s Chief Executive Officer. “In northern and southwestern Ontario, Gateway will work with host communities to bring our unique brands and experiences to customers. On behalf of the 4,000 Gateway employees, we look forward to welcoming OLG colleagues to our team.”

“In 2017, Gateway will celebrate 25 years in the business of gaming and entertainment,” said Gabriel de Alba, Gateway’s Executive Chairman. “Expanding into Ontario is truly an exciting and significant way to mark this important milestone in our company’s history.”

OLG has entered into a Transition and Asset Purchase Agreement with Gateway for each of the North and Southwest Gaming Bundles, which set out the customary closing conditions to be satisfied for OLG and Gateway to enter into a 20-year Casino Operating and Services Agreement (COSA) for each of the bundles. Under the COSAs, Gateway will take over day-to-day operations of:

Southwest

  • OLG Slots at Western Fair District
  • OLG Slots at Clinton Raceway
  • OLG Slots at Dresden Raceway
  • OLG Slots at Hanover Raceway
  • OLG Slots at Woodstock Raceway
  • OLG Casino Point Edward

North

  • OLG Casino Thunder Bay
  • OLG Casino Sault Ste. Marie
  • OLG Slots at Sudbury Downs

OLG expects that the service provider will take over day-to-day operations in spring 2017.

In addition, as the service provider for the North Gaming Bundle, Gateway will have the opportunity to build two new gaming and entertainment facilities, one in the N4 Gaming Zone (Kenora area) and one in the N5 Gaming Zone (North Bay). The proposed new facilities will be subject to required approvals, including the provincial government.

OLG employees will transfer to the new service provider and OLG will work with Gateway to ensure they have as smooth and seamless a transition as possible. This includes a requirement for the service provider to retain employees for a period of no less than 12 months in their current position and geographic location, and to provide eligible employees with benefits and a registered pension plan.

While Gateway will be responsible for the day-to-day gaming operations in the bundles, OLG will continue to:

  • Conduct and manage gaming in the bundles
  • Require compliance with applicable regulations set out by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO)
  • Be the owner of key player information
  • Uphold the standards of its Responsible Gambling program through the service provider, including the self-exclusion program
  • Distribute Contribution Agreement payments to host communities

Gateway is required to follow all applicable laws and regulations, as well as AGCO standards and rigorous Responsible Gambling standards.

To OLG, the integrity of its procurement process is of the utmost importance. Throughout the procurement process, OLG has engaged the services of a Fairness Monitor to provide oversight and advice.

Gateway Casinos & Entertainment Limited (Gateway) is one of the largest and most diversified gaming companies in Canada. Operating in Western Canada, Gateway has over 4,000 employees and operates 18 gaming properties with 222 tables and over 6,700 slot machines. With business partners, Gateway operates 43 restaurants and 1,000 hotel rooms. Gateway is undertaking an exciting redevelopment strategy to dramatically improve the customer experience and attract new gaming customers. This includes the development of proprietary food and beverage offerings like Match Eatery & Public House and Atlas Steak + Fish. In 2017, Gateway will celebrate 25 years in the business of gaming and entertainment in Canada. Further information is available at www.gatewaycasinos.com.

OLG is the Ontario government agency that delivers gaming entertainment in a socially responsible manner. OLG conducts and manages gaming facilities, the sale of province-wide lottery games, PlayOLG Internet gaming, the delivery of bingo and other electronic gaming products at Charitable Gaming Centres and is leading the integration of horse racing into the provincial gaming strategy. Since 1975, OLG has provided nearly $44 billion to the Province and the people of Ontario. These payments to the province support the operation of hospitals, amateur sport through the Quest for Gold program, local and provincial charities and problem gambling prevention, treatment and research.

(OLG)

Related Story

Backgrounder: Service Provider For North, Southwest Gaming Bundles

Ontario Racing Webinar Info Posted

October 19, 2016 – The information presented by Ontario Racing in its webinar regarding the proposed long-term funding framework for horse racing in the province is now available.

The slides from the webinar are presented below, or available here.

This framework, subject to government approval, will be presented to the industry for feedback. If approved, this framework will provide the industry as a whole – from owners, trainers and breeders to racetrack operators – with the certainty they need to make investments in their businesses.

OR’s primary objective, to this point, has been to engage directly with the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation and the government to provide input to the development of a roadmap to sustainable funding for the industry. Now, OR’s focus will shift towards engagement with the industry as a whole to garner feedback on this proposed framework.

This proposed framework is based on key principles including:

  • A new racetrack alliance: all Ontario racetracks that conduct live racing will be invited to create a new alliance. It is proposed that Woodbine Entertainment Group (WEG) will serve as the administrator of this new alliance.
  • Longer-term, predictable funding: Ontario’s horseracing industry can invest in their businesses beyond 2021.
  • Ongoing accountability and transparency: decision-making based on evidence and agreed upon success indicators.
  • Industry leadership: racetrack business plans, race dates, purse levels will be aligned across racetracks for a coordinated approach. Ontario Racing will play a key industry leadership role in the future.

Next steps include widespread ‘in person’ conversations with the industry about these principles, across Ontario. Sessions will take place in every region of the province that has horse racing, starting next week and taking place throughout the month of November. (dates subject to change)

  • Monday, October 31 – 2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. – Toronto (Holiday Inn – Toronto International Airport)
  • Tuesday, November 1 – 2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. – Hamilton (Flamboro Downs)
  • Wednesday, November 9 – 5:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. – (Hiawatha Horse Park)
  • Sunday, November 13 – 2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. – London (Western Fair Raceway)
  • Wednesday, November 16 – 5:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. – Ottawa (Rideau Carleton Raceway)
  • Saturday, November 19 – 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. – Port Perry (Location TBD)
  • Tuesday, November 22 – 2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. – Milton (Gambrel Barn, Country Heritage Park)

Industry participants can also provide feedback by answering consultation questions online on the Ontario Racing website.

Ontario Racing will collate feedback from the industry, and this perspective will inform recommendations to government.

(with files from Ontario Racing)

(Standardbred Canada)

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