Woodbine pitches gambling pact to OLG
Ontario's struggling horse racing industry on the decline
Ontario's largest horse racing company is eager to work with the province on an expanded gambling presence across its various locations.
Woodbine Entertainment Group CEO Nick Eaves chatted with the CBC's Amanda Lang recently to discuss the challenges facing the horse racing industry within the province.
Faced with dwindling spectator numbers, Woodbine has diversified its revenues by incorporating new locations, off-track betting options, and, most significantly, an expanded gaming presence.
Up until the end of March, Woodbine had a contract with the province's gambling regulator, OLG, to be their official recognized partner, with the exclusive authority to offer slot machine and other gambling devices.
But since that agreement expired, the OLG has openly been looking for a new framework for gaming in the province, and Woodbine finds itself shut off from one of the racetrack's main revenue streams
"Our focus is to make sure we find a new partnership with government that allows us to help them meet their revenue objectives but still find a way for a sustainable horse racing industry," Eaves said.
The North American industry has been facing a decline in racing enthusiasts for more than a decade. Woodbine itself used to offer 165 racing days a year, but has scaled that back to 133 for this season to cut costs. More than 100 full-time positions have also been axed as part of that cost saving strategy.
Woodbine is one of many groups currently lobbying the City of Toronto to host a possible casino.
"Our view is that the most logical way to meet the provincial revenue objective is to allow [Woodbine] to operate expanded gaming operations at Woodbine," Eaves said.
"There's a proven track record of success … By OLG's own admission it's the most successful gaming floor anywhere in North America."
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