Slots-at-Racetracks Program Update

The Ontario budget, passed April 24th, puts an end to the slots-at-racetracks program, operated by the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporatio

By: Horse-Canada.com Staff |

The Ontario budget, passed April 24th, puts an end to the slots-at-racetracks program, operated by the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) on March 31, 2013.

The provincial budget was passed with all 52 Liberal members of Parliament voting for and all 37 Progressive Conservative members voting against. The New Democratic Party (NDP) abstained, not casting any of their 17 votes.

The NDP did, however, work with Premier Dalton McGuinty to secure “transitional funding” for Ontario’s horse racing industry, which has been described as one-time payment. Further details on the agreement are not yet available.

The Ontario Horse Racing Industry Association’s president, Sue Leslie, has pledged to continue to work toward a plan for sustaining the industry. She is hopeful the OHRIA will be able to strike a more agreeable arrangement with the Ontario government moving forward.

In the meantime, the OHRIA is supporting MPP Monte McNaughton, who has introduced a private members bill designed to require referendums, prior to the approval of any new casino developments.

The OHRIA believes requiring referendums prior to the approval of any new gaming facilities will ensure that gaming facilities will continue to be hosted only by those communities that support them, which is the industry’s best chance of preserving a mutually beneficial relationship with the OLG in the future.

A number of communities in rural Ontario benefit from nearly two billion dollars of expenditures incurred by Ontario’s horse racing and breeding industry, in addition to the economic benefits enjoyed by the seventeen communities that host racetracks and slot facilities.

The OHRIA says the OLG’s plans to expand gaming in Ontario will continue to cause strife in the urban centres where casinos are being proposed and rural communities soon to lose their racetracks and slot facilities. Meetings have already begun between OLG and communities they would like to consider for future facilities. Extensive lobbying efforts are underway to bring a casino to Toronto’s waterfront. It is clear the Ontario Legislature needs to act fast, while there is still an opportunity to do so.

Support this bill and help encourage NDP MPPs to support this bill at second reading on May 3rd, 2012 when it will come to a vote. It is the OHRIA’s hope that New Democrats and Progressive Conservatives can unite around this bill, get it through committee and on to third reading before the summer recess.

Visit http://www.value4money.ca/  for a listing of NDP MPPs and make the time to call at least three of their offices to express your support for local referendums before new gaming facilities are approved and ask that they support MPP McNaughton’s bill on May 3rd.

~ with files from the Ontario Horse Racing Industry Association