Gambling with the future of Ontario horse racing

The Ontario government has decided to end a funding arrangement that pumped millions of dollars into the industry through slot machines at the province's racetracks. By reining in that deal, the tens of thousands who work as grooms, trainers, jockeys and even breeders say many of their jobs as well as the sport's huge international reputation is in jeopardy.

Today's guest host was Tom Harrington.

Part One of The Current


It's Monday, April 9th.

As the anniversary of the Titanic disaster approaches, the blockbuster movie of the same name is back in theatres, this time three dimensional.

Currently, the plot remains one dimensional.

This is The Current.

Gambling with the future of Ontario horse racing - Talk Tape

We started this segment with a winning clip of Northern Dancer sealing his legacy as the best race horse in the world - and putting Canada's race horse industry on the map.

Born and raised in Ontario, Northern Dancer was the first Canadian-bred horse to win the Kentucky Derby and went on to become the most successful sire of the 20th century - with stud fees reaching a million dollars.

Northern Dancer's legacy continues today, long after his death in 1990. The majority of horses lining up to run this May's Kentucky Derby will be powered in part by his DNA. It's a point of pride for anyone in the Ontario racing industry. But one that industry insiders say is under threat because of a decision in early March by the Ontario government to end a funding agreement that puts slot machines at 17 racetracks around the province.

There's widespread concern the move will lead to financial collapse - at a time when the Ontario racing industry is at the top of its game. The Current's Kathleen Goldhar joined Tom in studio with more on the story.

We requested an interview with the Ontario government, including Finance Minister Dwight Duncan. They declined. The OLG, Ontario Lottery and Gaming, also turned down our request. However, this is part of a written statement they sent:

The Slots at Racetrack Program did not allow OLG to consider alternate locations for slot sites. They had to be located at horse race tracks... As OLG implements its plan, in some cases, gaming sites will remain at a racetrack. In other cases, they will be relocated to a more urban area. As there was a horse racing industry before the slots program, OLG anticipates there will be a horse racing industry after the current slots funding formula ends next year.

Gambling with the future of Ontario horse racing - Canadian Gaming Association

Bill Rutsey is President and CEO of the Canadian Gaming Association. He was in Toronto.

This segment was produced byThe Current's Kathleen Goldhar and Ellen Saenger.

Other segmentst from today's show:

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