Ontario horse racing industry to get $400M from province

Premier Kathleen Wynne says the government will put up to $400 million over five years into Ontario's struggling horse-racing industry.
Ontario's horse racing industry has struggled in recent years. (Associated Press)

Premier Kathleen Wynne says the government will put up to $400 million over five years into Ontario's struggling
horse-racing industry.

A panel appointed by the Liberals after they cancelled the slots-at-racetracks program made the recommendation in a report released today.

It urges the government to inject up to $80 million per year over five years, starting next April, mainly to help cover purses and the costs of live racing.

The panel also calls for a standard-bred racing alliance to operate a "world class racing circuit" with eight tracks —
Hanover, Clinton, Grand River, Western Fair, Flamboro, Georgian, Mohawk and Woodbine.

However, it says it doesn't support a full race calendar at Fort Erie's track but endorses the current 30-day calendar at Ajax Downs.

Damage already done, Tories say

The Progressive Conservatives say the damage has already been done in rural Ontario, where farms have gone bankrupt and people have lost their jobs.

The slots-at-racetracks program brought in about $345 million a year for racetracks before the Liberals cancelled it last year.

The report says betting on horse racing has a long history and suggests the industry and Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. work together to maximize the potential of tracks as gaming centres and add new gaming options where permitted.

The three panel members — Elmer Buchanan, John Snobelen and John Wilkinson — are all former Ontario cabinet ministers.

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