Local NDP, Liberal MPs on board for single sports betting
Harness horse industry wants cut of the action
Local NDP and Liberal MPs think odds are good that single sports betting will be back on the table — now that the Liberals are back in power.
Windsor West NDP MP Brian Masse said to move the motion forward won't require a significant legislative process.
"It doesn't require a budget or a confidence vote," said Masse. "This can be rolled out really quickly."
Masse has been pushing for single sports betting for several years. A bill made it to the Senate during the Stephen Harper government, but died when the 2015 election was called.
While campaigning, Windsor West Liberal candidate Sandra Pupatello promised the party would bring in single sports betting.
"The landscape has really changed in the last year and a half, and it's time for the federal government to take that kind of action," said Pupatello earlier this month, pointing out single sports betting is available in the US, and all major sports leagues in Canada are now in favour.
Although Pupatello lost the election, Liberal counterpart Irek Kusmierczyk has pledged support for single sports betting as well.
"I look forward to meeting all the stakeholders involved. I'm actually looking forward to sitting down as well with with Mr. Masse and getting up to speed," said Kusmierczyk. "[Single sports betting is] something that I do support and it's something that I will be advocating for."
Harness horse racing industry spooked
The threat of single sports betting coming to fruition has the harness horse racing industry spooked.
"If someone is betting on single sports betting they may not decide to come out to our harness racing," said Lakeshore mayor Tom Bain. "There would be a definite loss for us if that's allowed to go through."
Bain also sits on the executive of the Lakeshore Horse Racing Association.
Bain would like harness horse racing venues across the province to get a percentage of the proceeds in some way, which may include allowing the venues to offer single sports betting.
"It's not that we're trying to grab any extra money, we just want to not lose any over this," said Bain.
Bain said his horse racing association has seen its best year ever at the Sunday races in Leamington. According to Bain, wagering is up 20 per cent over last year, with at least $30,000 being wagered every Sunday. If the weather holds out, he predicts the last race of the season will be no different.
The association wants to renegotiate purses and extend the horse racing season to begin earlier in the summer. Currently, they race Sundays from August through to the end of October.
Windsor-Tecumseh MPP Percy Hatfield is working on getting Ontario Harness Horse Association (OHHA) executives a meeting with the premier to work out a better deal, which would include the single sports betting revenue.
"The Progressive Conservative government of Doug Ford have indicated they are on board with single sports betting," said Hatfield, recounting a meeting he had with former Finance Minister Vic Fedeli before the last budget. "It would just be a matter of getting everybody in the same room and get the harness horse people there and talk about getting a cut of the action."
Hatfield has a meeting with the OHHA executive members at the end of the month.