Elora, ON --- Premier Kathleen Wynne was at Grand River Raceway in Elora, Ontario, on Friday afternoon (March 8) to make an announcement about the future of the province’s horse racing industry after the Slots At Racetracks Program ends on March 31, 2013.
The Premier paused for photos with two Standardbred racehorses before making the announcement to a full room of reporters.
“The reason there are so many of you here today, is because this is a very important industry,” Wynne began. “I’m pleased to be here today to share some good news with you."
|Iron Horse photo|
|Premier Kathleen Wynne paused for photos with two Standardbred racehorses.|
The Premier announced that the Ontario government has reached four tentative transition funding agreements with Western Fair, Clinton, Hanover and Grand River Raceway. The transition funding is for a period of three years. Wynne would not discuss dollar amounts. These four tracks are in addition to agreements reached with Woodbine and Mohawk Racetracks a few weeks earlier, bringing the total to six.
“I’m committing that the dollars will be there to continue negotiations,” said Wynne of ongoing negotiations with other tracks.
“One of the key recommendations of the Transition Panel was to integrate horse racing with the provincial gaming strategy,” Wynne explained. “I’m committing to the sector that we’re going to work to make that happen.
“It has been made clear to me, and I absolutely accept that it makes more sense for us to integrate these two endeavors, and that’s what’s going to happen.
“We’re going to ensure that racetracks have access to revenues from new and different gaming operations in order to have a sustainable future. I remain committed to making those changes.”
Although the Premier did not give specifics regarding these new gaming operations, during a Q&A following the announcement, Transition Panel member John Wilkinson referenced the V75 in Sweden and France’s PMU system, racinos and sports betting as examples of racing-gaming integration models.
“During our research, we couldn’t find another jurisdiction that didn’t have that arrangement and had a strong horse racing industry,” he said.
“There’s a full range of jobs supported by this industry,” Wynne said. “We recognize that we really needed to take a look at the decision that had been made…and we needed to make sure there weren’t enormous unintended consequences of a decision that was made last year.”
“This announcement gives us a place from which to start,” said Dr. Ted Clarke, General Manager of Grand River Raceway. “We have a lot of work to do. There are a lot of people -- race participants, patrons and employees -- who have been waiting anxiously to hear the status of our 2013 live harness racing season. As soon as we have the details, we’ll get them out straight away.”
Complete video of Premier Kathleen Wynne’s press conference and Q&A at Grand River Raceway are available at the following links:
Press Conference: http://youtu.be/wBYdjOQ49nw