The Ontario Horse Racing Industry Association (OHRIA) was not surprised by the findings contained in the Auditor General’s Report on the Ontario Lottery and Gaming’s (OLG’s) Modernization Plan considering the devastation the horse racing and breeding industry has endured since the cancellation of the Slots at Racetracks Program (SARP).
“It is troubling when your own government knowingly takes steps to devastate a thriving industry especially one that is so important to rural Ontario and the Province’s GDP,” states Sue Leslie, President and Chair of OHRIA, “Our industry has lost more than 9,000 jobs and counting, and is still struggling to survive due to the uncertainty of the long term survival of the industry.”
In large part it was the support and help from the opposition parties in the legislature that gave the industry the attention it needed to convince government to re-think their decisions involving the horse racing industry. Around this time last year, OHRIA was finally given an opportunity by the newly sworn-in Premier, Kathleen Wynne, to bring forth the industry’s message of distress caused by her predecessor.
To her credit Premier Wynne recognized the importance of the horse racing and breeding industry and has taken strong steps to ensure its survival however the delay in progress of integration into the OLG’s overall gaming strategy is limiting the vision and success of her plan.
OHRIA intends to look forward and continue to find solutions for the industry. “The industry is in a better place than one year ago but there is still much, much more to be done with integration being number one on the list,” commented Leslie, “It would appear that there is a disconnect between the OLG’s and OHRIA’s interpretation of integration into the gaming strategy. However we will continue to trust the Premier’s promise for integration and will remain ready to engage the OLG in meaningful, progressive dialogue at their first opportunity.”
OHRIA will also continue to assist the horse racing and breeding industry and Government, working with the Premier’s appointed Director of OHR, John Snobelen, to address all issues which are hampering the industry’s efforts to thrive and return to the world class industry we once were.
With the talent and diversity of the many people working within this industry, we need to use our assets to find innovative ways to continue to move forward. We have proven, supported by the auditor general’s report, that the horse racing and breeding industry provides a substantial contribution to our Province and with the prospect of integration will be a respected partner in gaming.