Windsor Raceway officials announced the track will likely close entirely Aug. 31.
"Despite OLG reports, at this time no arrangement is in place to facilitate any continued horse racing operations at the Windsor Raceway and particularly not through March 31, 2013," officials wrote in a media release Friday.
The OLG announced in March it would continue to provide the horse racing industry a share of slot revenue until March 31, 2013. Windsor Raceway officials, however, have not agreed to terms of that proposed transitional agreement.
- Opened Oct. 22, 1965
- Opening Day attendance: 5,136
- Introduced live year-round racing:1995
- Premier annual race: $200,000 Provincial Cup
- 750 Slots opened in Dec. 1998
- Slots closed April 30, 2012
- 150 full-time employees laid off April 30, 2012
- May 4, 2012, potential closure announced
Instead, the two sides came to an "interim access agreement" Monday to allow OLG to remove slot machines from the raceway by Aug. 31. During the decommishing and removal of the slots, the OLG will continue to provide a share of slot reveune to the raceway, which it will share with the horse people.
"That agreement only brings us to Aug. 31," Soulliere said. "Unless we come to an agreement to continue this funding to March 2013, we’ll close."
Windsor Raceway told OLG it wants to submit all outstanding issues to mediation, including the conditions the OLG insists upon to provide any continued funding for horse racing. The OLG has refused mediation, according to Soulliere.
OLG confirmed Friday it was only made aware of the raceway's intentions when it read the track's news release
The track's viability was thrown into question by the province's decision to remove slot machines and end gaming revenue sharing with the harness racing industry.
Finance minister foreshadowed closure
In what may have been a moment of foreshdowing Thursday in the Legislature, Liberal Finance Minister and Windsor Tecumseh MPP Dwight Duncan said "this week we had to close racetracks that cost jobs in my riding."
On April 26, Duncan said, "I'm advised that five possibly six tracks will survive."
A spokesperson for Duncan told CBC News the minister wasn't available for comment Friday.
Several in the horse racing industry have said for months the end of the slots-for-horses program would kill the industry and cost the province 65,000 jobs tied either directly or indirectly to horse racing.
Duncan has said on several occasions his government would "choose health care over horse racing."
Friday's announcement came on the day members of the local horse industry are to meet with Windsor West MPP Teresa Piruzza to discuss how the government can help maintain the local industry.
Brian Tropea, the general manager of the Ontario Harness Horse Association, was not originally going to join in the conversation in Windsor. However, he is now en route to the city.
"We’re not interested in transitioning to other jobs. We’re interested in saving the investment we have in horse racing," Tropea said.
Other tracks in trouble
Fort Erie Race Track CEO Jim Thibert said his track could be in jeopardy. He doesn't expect there will be a race season in 2013 if the track can't somehow convince OLG to allow it to manage the slots that were shut down April 30.
Thibert said his staff can run the slots more efficiently than OLG.
"It's all over if we don't manage the slots," Thibert said. "We want to take over the slots."
In Sarnia, Mayor Mike Bradley said he spoke with track staff there Monday and the mayor doesn't expect racing to survive there either.
"[OLG] said the horse industry would survive," Bradley said. "Well, I think we're getting a quick answer: I don't believe it will."