During the first meeting hosted by Ontario Racing to discuss the proposed long-term funding plan, the OLG revealed that they are reconsidering how to incorporate gaming products for the horse industry.
Previously, the OLG’s vice-president of horse racing, Cal Bricker, told Canadian Thoroughbred magazine that the OLG’s integration with horse racing would be limited to governance and marketing support. Premier Wynn’s recent decision to cancel the privatization of the OLG, however, has re-opened discussions about horse racing products at the OLG.
Bricker explained that while the casino side of the business would be operated by service providers, the OLG would continue to operate the lottery business. “Lottery is going to be the retained business for OLG,” he said. “I think that will open up some new opportunities for different racing revenue that we can look at.”
As there is increased pressure on the horse racing industry to become more self-sustaining, new wagering opportunities to increase revenue are particularly important. As part of the proposed long-term funding plan, a Woodbine Entertainment Group-led Ontario track alliance would be formed which would have to meet substantial wagering targets set by OLG that have yet to be negotiated. Any funds that are earned over and above the initial target would, for the majority, become the industry’s to invest.
New horse racing wagering products like the popular Pro-Line series has long been hoped for by the industry to bolster both revenue and awareness. Simpler quick-pick style games, such as the concept created by the Kentucky based company Equilottery, would also fit this framework and have been previously pitched to the OLG.
“We are actually very hopeful about the modernization of the lottery not going forward because we really do feel that the expanded integration beyond wagering is really, really important,” commented a WEG representative.
Bricker noted that the OLG is currently working with International Game Technology to develop suitable games and the necessary back-end infrastructure, but a timeline for implementation isn’t available.