Horse Racing Industry Transition Panel says industry needs to be ‘customer driven’
A three-person panel reporting to the Ontario government believes a sustainable horse racing industry is possible — even without the Slots at Racetracks Program.
In its report, the Horse Racing Industry Transition Panel said it, “could not find a single example of a viable horse racing industry without some form of public support.
“Even so, the panel found it would be a mistake to reinstate [the Slots at Racetracks Program].”
Instead, the panel suggests the industry become “more customer-driven by basing all purse money on the industry’s share of pari-mutuel wagering.”
The province ended the slots program earlier this year.
According the report, more than 60 per cent of purse money awarded in Ontario came from the slots program.
To offset those losses, the panel recommends the number of live race dates be slashed in almost half to approximately 800 annually across the province.
The panel claims “substantial purses will be maintained.”
The panel doesn’t rule out government support of the industry, however.
First, it found the $50 million the government planned to spend during the next three years in an effort to transition to a sustainable future is “insufficient.”
It also said tracks will require government investment in their operations.
Another recommendation is the creation of additional streams of gaming revenue at tracks.
Options include a racing-specific lottery; sports books which include single-event sports betting if that’s approved by Ottawa; and a new pari-mutuel game called “historical horse racing” which involves betting through an electronic terminal on the outcome of past races, which are not identified to the player.
“These new products could potentially generate revenue that could be used to offset the need for direct public funding,” the panel said.
The panel suggests that the minimum number of tracks required to allow the industry to survive is six.