Sudbury horse racer braces for 'end of a dream'
The Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation's plan to sever ties with horse racing industry could mean millions in lost purse money
Local horse racers fear changes coming from the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation will spell the end of Sudbury Downs.
The corporation is planning to sever its ties with the racing industry by this time next year, which would mean a loss of about $4 million in purse money at the track.
Meighan MacLennan, who races horses at Sudbury Downs, said the horse racing community depends on the OLG money.
"There's lots of people just like us that have families and rely on this business to put food on the table and make a living at it," MacLennan said.
In addition to the annual $4 million from the OLG slots that goes to purse money, funds also flow to the track owners and the city.
MacLennan said if the OLG stops contributing to the prize money at the track, she'll lose everything.
"This is just the end of a dream really," MacLennan said. "We finally settled down and we're going to have to pick up from where we are and move out."
Tony Bitonti, a spokesperson for OLG, said the corporation is also considering other locations for the slots.
Details are sketchy, but a release from the corporation talks about locating the slot facilities more strategically.
"So we're saying, they could still be there, or they could be put in other places," Bitonti said.
Sudbury Downs is located on the outskirts of the city in the town of Chelmsford.
The City of Sudbury was originally under consideration as a possible home for the slots, back in pre-amalgamation days.
Maureen Luoma, executive director of Downtown Sudbury, said there was once opposition to the idea, but she's open to the possibilities.
"It would provide more opportunities, so I do think it would be looked at a bit different," Luoma said.
In the meantime, the racing community plans to take its concerns to city hall next week.