Nova Scotia

Dartmouth 'racino' panned by critic

More information is emerging about a proposal for a combined horserace track and casino in Dartmouth, N.S., though opponents dismiss it as a pipe dream.

More information is emerging about a proposal for a combined horserace track and casino in Dartmouth, N.S., though an opponent dismisses it as a pipe dream.

The "racino" would cost $45 million and would be similar to one at P.E.I.'s Charlottetown Driving Park, says Dan Mailman, with Harness Racing Nova Scotia.

It has been more than 20 years since a track announcer has called a horse race in the Halifax area. Sackville Downs closed in 1986.

Mailman said the proposal would involve building a new track at Dartmouth Crossing and include other forms of gambling. It would also double as a permanent site for concerts, complete with ample parking.

Room for 2 casinos?

Celebration Gaming would put up money for the project, which has the backing of Harness Racing Nova Scotia.

Celebration Gaming said a study shows there is enough business for the project, despite an existing casino across the harbour in downtown Halifax.

One hurdle is government approval. The province is releasing a new gaming strategy this month, but it's unclear if that takes into account racinos.

"I'm not aware of any specific proposal that's come to government. Beyond that, I really can't comment on any specifics at this point," said Michael Noonan, a government spokesman.

The minister in charge is Dave Wilson, whose district includes the former home of Sackville Downs.

A spokesman for the anti-video lottery terminal group GameOver VLTs called the plan a seriously flawed "pipe dream."

"It's a marvellous idea, except for the fact that it depends on the profit margin on the back of VLT addicts," Terry Fulmer said.

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