With the Slots at Racetracks program ending March 31, local tracks including Windsor Raceway, which has ceased operations, and Hiawatha in Sarnia, have already made significant changes.
Western Fair in London cut 20 jobs this week, stating the reduction in staff was a direct result of the cancellation of the Slots at Racetracks program.
After the Conservative Party released a document recently titled “A Better Path Forward For Horse Racing,” in which they outlined their party’s stance on the importance of supporting horse racing in Ontario, NDP leader Andrea Horwath spoke out against Liberal Premier Kathleen Wynne and the Liberal Party’s move to slash the Slots at Racetrack program at a recent Question Period.
“This government hobbled the horse racing industry and threw family farms into chaos when it put down the slots-at-racetracks partnership,” Horwath stated during Question Period following the job loss at Western Fair. “Even communities like London that were spared outright track closures are now dealing with the fallout.”
“This government is gambling with the future of the horse racing industry, and families across Ontario are losing their shirts. Western Fair Raceway made the government’s cut, but that’s cold comfort for the families of 20 workers who have been put out to pasture,” she continued.
Local Lambton-Kent-Middlesex MPP Monte McNaughton has likely been the Province’s most outspoken advocate for horse racing. His riding is home to Dresden Raceway, and many farms which support both Hiawatha in Sarnia, and Western Fair in London.
McNaughton sent a letter to Premier Wynne, who also serves as the Minister of Agriculture for Ontario, urging her Party to work on deals with all of Ontario’s horse racing tracks, in particular, for Dresden Raceway, which he estimates supports 800-1000 jobs locally.
“May I remind you that delaying the announcement of racing dates affects over 55,000 jobs across Ontario?” McNaughton wrote to Wynne. “Having already disrupted the 2012 breeding season by the cancellation of the government’s agreement to share slots revenue with the horse racing and breeding industry, you are now endangering what little is left of the industry.”
McNaughton’s advocacy follows the PC’s white paper release on the Conservative stance regarding horse racing, which states, “Horse racing must be a key component of Ontario’s gaming strategy. The government should cancel the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation plan to abandon racetrack slots and spend money on new casinos. Instead, we will build partnerships with the horse racing industry, allowing it to thrive.”
The Slots at Racetracks program is slated to cease operations permanently as of March 31, 2013.