The Ontario Horse Racing Industry Association (OHRIA) is concerned that the integration of horse racing into the OLG’s Gaming Strategy will be impossible if the existing OLG Modernization Plan continues to go forward.
The OLG’s announcement of the RFPQs for their Southwest Gaming Bundle puts Ontario’s horse racing industry at further risk of collapse because the existing Modernization Plan does not allow for racetrack operators to submit a proposal to operate the slots that already exist in their racetracks. The current “bundle” proposal that requires a single operator for all six gaming zones in the Southwest would further eliminate individual racetracks from consideration as hosts.
The Government won’t know the final strategy on how horse racing will be integrated into the Modernization Plan until October 2013, a full two months after the latest RFPQ deadline for the Southwest Bundle, which contains five OLG Slots at racetracks.
The commitment by Premier Wynne to integrate horse racing on March 6 resulted in the Horse Racing Transition Panel being re-struck with specific reporting deadlines on the strategy for horse racing integration.
OHRIA has been grateful for Premier Wynne’s efforts over the past few months, but is concerned that the latest OLG move does not allow the local racetracks in Ontario’s southwest to get a fair chance at integration.
“Western Fair, Clinton, Dresden, Woodstock and Hanover Raceways fall into the Southwestern region zones and they could potentially lose their zones before the integration strategy for horse racing is finalized,” said Sue Leslie, President of OHRIA. “We thank Premier Wynne for her commitment to horse racing, but are concerned that integrating the industry will be meaningless if racetracks in Northern, Eastern and Southwestern Ontario lose their zones to other gaming operators due to OLG decisions before integration has occurred.”
Fourteen of the Provinces 17 racetracks will have 2013 racing seasons however the horse racing industry needs a long term revenue stream to compete with the overwhelming gaming competition from the OLG which will only increase with their existing Modernization Plan.
“All we are asking is for time to ensure that the Panel, after consulting with OHRIA and industry participants, can report back to the Premier, and horse racing can be integrated before the OLG’s expansion continues. We’d like the Premier to tell the OLG to halt its RFPQ process province-wide until October, until integration decisions have been finalized.”
The Panel’s report, due in October, will help the Government decide how integration should go forward beginning in 2014.