Four press releases on January 23 announced changes to the horse racing industry in Ontario.
The OLG announced that it has reached agreements in principle with eight tracks, referred to as “gaming sites”, including Woodbine, Mohawk, Rideau Carleton, Hanover, Woodstock, Dresden, Sudbury Downs and Clinton raceways. Agreements in principle had already been reached with Western Fair Raceway and Kawartha Downs last December.
The OLG projects that these agreements will be finalized by the end of February 2013. The press release further states, “OLG continues to engage in lease agreement discussions with its other site holders across the province and remains hopeful that a positive outcome to those discussions is near for all facilities.”
A second press release from OMAFRA announced that the Liberal government had reached, “an agreement in principle to provide transition funding to the province's largest provider of horse racing. The agreement with Woodbine Entertainment Group will ensure races continue at the Woodbine and Mohawk tracks as the industry adapts to a more sustainable model.”
In order to receive transition funding, racetracks will have to meet accountability and transparency requirements.
Woodbine Entertainment Group confirmed their agreement with the Ontario government in a third press release, an arrangement that, “ensures the continuation of live horse racing at Woodbine and Mohawk Racetracks for the next two years.”
And finally, the Ontario Racing Commission (ORC) announced that they would be reporting to the Ontario Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA), effective immediately.
“The ORC will continue to support and be a resource to OMAFRA as the racing industry works to move to a more self-sustaining model.”
This move was part of the government’s horse racing industry transition plan, which also includes the continuation of the Horse Improvement Plan and providing animal welfare support.
A revised 2013 racing calendar will be announced as agreements are finalized.