The Ontario Horse Racing Industry Association (OHRIA) is pleased with the personal attention and progress that Premier Kathleen Wynne has given to ensuring the survival of the province’s horse racing and breeding industry. The recently negotiated five-year deal, which provides the industry with some stability, is much appreciated.
The ultimate survival of the industry, which supports more than 60,000 full time jobs, mainly in rural Ontario, will hinge on it being integrated into the province’s Gaming Strategy and discussions on how to achieve this have not yet occurred.
“We are asking Premier Wynne to give the same attention to the integration of horse racing and breeding in the gaming strategy as she did with ensuring the short term survival of the industry,” commented OHRIA president and chair, Sue Leslie, in response to the province’s press release, “The industry cannot compete against the overwhelming competition and financial superiority of the OLG and if this industry is to survive past the new five year deal it needs to be part of the overall gaming plan.”
The horse racing and breeding industry was sent spiraling to near collapse in 2012 when the OLG announced the cancellation of the highly successful Slots at Racetracks Program in then Premier McGuinty’s March budget.
After Kathleen Wynne was sworn in in 2013, OHRIA has worked with the Premier, John Snobelen and OMAFRA to shed light on the importance and economic value of the horse racing and breeding industry to the Province. The Premier invested her personal attention by instructing the Horse Racing Transition Panel to ensure the industry’s survival.
The Panel, which was made up of former Ministers, Elmer Buchanan, John Snobelen and John Wilkinson, put forth their recommendations to the Premier in October 2013.
One of the Panel’s four major recommendations was that horse racing should be an integral part of Ontario’s modern gaming strategy. Their recommendations included:
– Racetracks being community friendly venues for various forms of gaming that mutually benefit racing and the provincial treasury.
– Maximizing government revenue from gaming by making the most of the racetracks’ network of facilities and systems i.e. by transforming the tracks into gaming centers.
“We’re asking the Premier to help ensure that integration talks with the OLG and the industry commence as soon as possible to instil investor confidence back into the industry, and thereby ensuring a strong future for our industry,” stated Mrs. Leslie, “the breeding industry was hit hard and we need investors to know that they will be able to recoup the money they have invested in their horses. This takes an assurance and commitment that there will be an industry more than five years from now, integration will solidify horseracing’s future.”
For more information visit value4money.ca or contact OHRIA at 416-679-0741 or [email protected]