Racino for Saint John being discussed

Word is circulating through New Brunswick's harness racing community that a racino could be in the works.

Proposed harness racing, gambling complex proposed for city's east side

New Brunswick's harness racing industry is buzzing today with news of a possible racino for Saint John. 2:07

New Brunswick's harness racing industry is abuzz with news of a possible racino for Saint John.

Horse Racing New Brunswick president Mitchell Downey told CBC News discussions are underway with the provincial Department of Finance.

If approved, the facility would be operated by the Atlantic Lottery Corporation, horsemen were told at a meeting in Saint John on Wednesday night.

"It's worked everywhere else they've tried them so I can't see why it wouldn't work in Saint John," said one of the horsemen, Mike Downey.

"With the blue-collar workers we have here, I think it would be a win-win situation," he said.

Department of Finance spokesman Brendan Langille confirmed Friday talks are ongoing about a possible harness racing and gambling complex at the Exhibition Park Raceway (EPR) on the city's east side.

But he denied reports from the horsemen community that the proposed facility would resemble Red Shores in Charlottetown.

It cannot have any gaming tables because that would violate the provincial government's 10-year agreement with Casino New Brunswick, said Langille

It could only have video lottery terminals (VLTs), he said.

The province's other condition for the proposed racino is that it cannot involve any taxpayers' money, said Langille.

Costs to be studied

A six- to eight-week study of costs will be undertaken by the Atlantic Lottery Corporation to ensure a racino would not incur any hidden costs to the province, said Gerry Lowe, a board member of Saint John's Exhibition Park Raceway (EPR) and a city councillor.

But he believes a complex combining harness racing and video lottery terminals (VLTs) would be a positive.

"Anything that brings people into town puts money into the economy, simple as that," he said.

A racino would not conflict with existing plans to build a field house at the EPR, Lowe added.

The Atlantic Lottery Corporation could not be reached for comment.