A plan to bring a new horse racing facility to Saint John would include video lottery terminals but proponents are stopping short of calling the proposal a "racino."
Jeff Malloy, the executive director of Horse Racing New Brunswick, said he has been looking to bring an updated facility to the Saint John area for years.
The proposal that is being considered would include a horse racing facility with video lottery terminals and a seating area for spectators.
Malloy said a new facility would revive the horse racing industry in Saint John.
"It's going to create jobs. It's going to put a lot back into the local community as well as the provincial one," he said.
"Agriculture is probably the biggest beneficiary as far as the horse racing industry goes."
Malloy said he will continue to meet with stakeholders and provincial officials to discuss the plan, including the exact location of the development.
Horse Racing New Brunswick has entered into a development deal with the Woodstock First Nation Economic Development Corp. to bring a multi-purpose horse racing facility to Saint John.
Matthew Tomah, a regional manager with the Woodstock First Nation group, said the plans are in its infancy but the development would also include a First Nation's cultural centre.
The proposal would also seek to reinvigorate the harness racing industry in the city.
Saint John's Exhibition Park has been without a grandstand since it was torn down in 2003.
Malloy said he’d like to see fans of the sport being able to come out to the park in greater numbers.
"You know, Exhibition Park, it's struggled without a facility for many, many years. It would be great to see one that will allow people to come to the track again and enjoy themselves," he said.
In the 1980s, the Exhibition Park Raceway hosted races six nights a week. But now there is only one night of racing each week in Saint John.
Racino plan failed in 2007
The plan would also incorporate video lottery terminals, similar to the Fredericton Raceway, according to Malloy.
"It's not a racino. It would be more similar to Fredericton," he said, referring to the Fredericton Raceway.
A so-called racino combines harness racing with video lottery terminals and other casino-like games.
A racino would not be a new concept in Atlantic Canada. The Atlantic Lottery Corp. already operates the Red Shores Racetrack and Casino in Charlottetown.
There has been interest in recent years over the idea of locating a racino in southern New Brunswick.
Saint John’s Exhibition Association had floated the idea of building a racino in 2007 when the provincial government was soliciting proposals for a casino.
That specific plan died when the provincial government approved the casino project in Moncton.
When the provincial government unveiled its gaming policy in November 2007, it also cut the number of video lottery terminal sites to 300 from 625 and the number of machines to 2,000 from 2,650.
The Department of Finance’s 2010-2011 annual report suggests those targets were achieved in 2010.
Video lottery terminals earned New Brunswick $91 million in 2010-2011, down from $100 million the year before, according to ALC.
The New Brunswick Lotteries and Gaming Corp. reported earlier this year that it missed its revenue targets by more than $9.4 million in 2011.