Long-Term Funding Agreement – Harness Horse Racing in Ontario

Negotiations with Ontario Lottery & Gaming Commission

On Friday, April 13th, the Ontario Government and its Gaming Agency, the Lottery and Gaming Commission (OLG) announced it had negotiated with Woodbine Entertainment Group (WEG) a longterm funding Agreement, spanning 19 years funded by the Ontario Government totalling $2 Billion to protect and preserve a viable horse racing industry in Ontario that generates some $2 billion in economic activity annually, that supports between 40-60 thousand horsepeople, directly and indirectly by sustaining jobs predominantly in rural Ontario.

Horse people and their associations were not at the table to negotiate this agreements – “Major Racetrack” operators were, Lakeshore Raceway was not!

Executives of Lakeshore and our Association of Horsepeople have met with WEG and OLG and Ministry of Finance for the last two weeks. The fine print in this agreement has been closely examined by our Association, Ontario Harness Horse Association and the Three Breed Horse Alliance, and our legal Counsel have all recommended that we not enter into this Agreement “essentially as it offers no incentives to expand Horse Racing at our track in Leamington; is uncertain beyond a mere 3 years to Horsepeople in Southwestern Ontario and a ‘sweetner’ of $400.00 PER race could represent the death knell to Lakeshore Raceway within 3 years.

The current funding agreement is completely unsustainable for the thousands of horsepeople in Essex County who race at Leamington.

With a self-imposed deadline of May 2nd, 2018, to sign up, we, with the full support by our membership, seek to return to the negotiation table with OLG before the Ontario Legislature is dissolved on May 7, 2018 to ready Ontario for the June election.

On behalf of Lakeshore and Horsepeople in Southwestern Ontario we continue to work towards a viable horse racing industry in 2017 wagered some 850,000,000 dollars: an industry worthy of its survival.

Mark Wiliams, President – Lakeshore Horse Racing Association

Tom Bain, Director - Lakeshore Horse Racing Association

Brian Tropea, General Manager – Ontario Harness Horse Association

© 2021 The Essex Free Press ltd.

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