Bullet News CLINTON – Ontario’s horse-racing industry has retained the help of a gambling expert to help devise a go-forward plan in advance of talks with the provincial government.
The Ontario Horse Racing Industry Association this week announced the creation of a stakeholder taskforce to “enter into dialogue with the government that will result in a viable and successful horse-racing and breeding industry in Ontario.”
The taskforce has retained the services of Stanley Sadinsky, a former chairman of both the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation and the Ontario Racing Commission.
A respected lawyer, Sadinsky has over the years been a trusted adviser to governments and the private sector on gaming policy and legal issues.
“We think things will be favourable for us. We’re happy with that,” said Ian Fleming, who manages of Clinton Raceway and London’s Western Fair Raceway.
Sadinsky is the author of a number important studies commissioned by the province, including a 2005 report, Problem Gambling and Responsible Gaming Strategy of Ontario, and the 2008 report, Strategic Development of the Horse Racing and Breeding Industry of Ontario, which supported small race tracks like the one in Clinton.
“We’re hoping we’ll be asked for input,” Fleming said.
Ontario’s horse-racing industry, which employs about 60,000 people, has been reeling since the provincial Liberals and the OLG earlier this year announced plans to kill the slots-at-racetracks program, which sees some $345-million flow into the industry through a revenue sharing formula dating back to the late 1990s.
Without that money, it has been estimated anywhere from a few to as many as a dozen of Ontario’s 17 race tracks could eventually be forced to close.
In Sadinky’s 2008 report, he noted in the executive summary that many of the jobs are in the agricultural sector and would be difficult to replace. The slot program was designed to allow the industry to invest in its future by growing and its wagering and breeding sectors. However, there were no instructions on how slot revenue would be spent and no benchmarking mechanism.
Last week, Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation outlined a plan to carve the province into 29 gaming zones in which single, privately run facilities could operate. Clinton would be part of what’s referred to as Southwestern Zone Five, which covers Huron County. Unlike some zones, there is just a single slots facility already operating in the zone. However, up to 300 slot machines and an as-yet undetermined number of table games will be allowed in this area, which currently has just over 100 slot machines.
Fleming said Clinton Raceway Inc. will pursue a partnership with any operator who is allowed to develop a facility in Zone Five, in which it will lease the current gaming facility and have a role in operations.
Files courtesy of John Robbins, Bullet News Niagara