Today, the Ontario PC Party is unveiling a strong and bold turnaround plan for Ontario’s embattled horse-racing industry, recognizing that a robust horse-racing business is a vital component of the province’s rural economy.
“A thriving horse-racing industry is not just something to be toyed with. It needs to have a plan,” says PC Leader Tim Hudak. “The industry employs 60,000 men and women in work they love, and helps sustain small towns and rural communities across the province.”
“It’s too important to lose because of a bad political decision.”
The Liberal decision to pull the plug on the successful slots at the racetracks program devastated the horse-racing industry, and put tens of thousands of jobs at risk.
The Liberals’ plan, made without any plot to transition the industry to sustainability, was dropped on the industry without warning in order to build 29 casinos across Ontario.
“What the Liberals have done has left those in the horse-racing industry having to go begging for grants every year,” adds Randy Pettapiece, Hudak’s Rural Affairs and Horse Racing Critic. “It creates nothing more than another (government) horse bureaucracy that can only lead to fewer jobs and fewer spinoff benefits for broader rural communities.”
In fact, it will inevitably lead to the closure of tracks.
The Ontario PCs’ five-point plan will strengthen public-private partnerships with the job-creating racing industry, not tear them apart.
The core elements include re-establishing, but fixing, a slot at racetracks program that will be transparent, accountable and affordable to the taxpayer.
It will look to best practices in U.S. jurisdictions like New York and Pennsylvania as models.
Randy Pettapiece (Perth-Wellington) will be touring the province on behalf of the Ontario PCs to discuss ways to implement the plan to ensure jobs.
“This is the plan the horse-racing industry has been waiting for,” says Hudak. “We’ve done our homework and we have come up with a plan that will keep thousands employed in a sport that’s in their blood.
“The job now is to get it done.”
The PC plan includes the following core elements:
1. Put an immediate and permanent end to the Liberals’ so-called “modernization plan” that would close down racetrack slots in favour of building 29 new casinos in locations yet to be determined.
2. Re-establish, but fix, a slots at racetracks program that will be transparent, accountable and affordable to the taxpayer. Look to best practices in U.S. jurisdictions like New York and Pennsylvania as models.
3. Form public-private partnerships with businesses that know how to run slots and other games to increase the overall revenue that can be shared with the horse racing industry and taxpayers.
4. Build off of what is already working and successful. New gaming operations – like table games and sports betting – should go to racetracks, as opposed to building 29 new casinos.
5. Enforce strong accountability and transparency mechanisms around how the revenue is used, as recommended in the 2008 Sadinsky report.
(Ontario PC Party)