'Significant benefit' for Wellington horse industry
Provincial plan to pump $400M over 5 years into horse-racing could bring much needed stability
A new plan to bolster the province's struggling horse-racing industry to the tune of $400 million over five years could finally bring stability to Wellington County's horse-racing industry after almost a year of turbulence.
The local horse breeding industry has been in shambles since the provincial government cancelled its revenue sharing agreement with the horse racing industry in late winter of 2012, an agreement that sent 20 per cent of all slot machine revenue earned at racetracks to facilities themselves and the horsemen who raced there.
Now the government plans to inject $80 million a year into Ontario's horse racing industry, starting in April.
"The fact that it's a five-year plan is a significant benefit," Ted Clarke, the general manager of Grand River Raceway told The Morning Edition host Craig Norris Tuesday. "The cycle of production of a racehorse is a long one and anything short of a five year plan doesn't give enough stability."
"So yes, it's a good thing," he said.
Clarke said the government's decision to stop sharing slot revenue with the racetracks that host the machines has left Wellington County's local horse industry in shambles.
"What it did was it undercut the confidence of the people who are part of the industry and immediately began to put the industry into survival mode," he said.
"If you go down the Guelph line, there is a large number of farms listed for sale. People have changed their way of thinking about this industry."
However, when it comes to the province's latest efforts to prop up Ontario's horse racing, Clarke still doesn't know whether the five-year plan will truly be effective.
"It's simply - it's difficult at this stage to know for sure how the mechanism is going to work and how each track will relate to it," he said.
Clarke said what will determine the effectiveness of the plan is the effectiveness of the new regulating body, Ontario Live Racing, which will replace the industry's old provincial regulator, the Ontario Racing Commission.
"To be frank, we are regulated in an extreme manner by both the federal and provincial government. So everything has to flow through a number of levels in order for a race date to occur. Depending on the cost to create Ontario Live Racing and its ability to function properly, it may be a good thing, it may not, I'm waiting to see."