I believe that OHRIA has done an outstanding job in putting together their recent plan to the government. It sets up a very good start to their negotiations with them. This plan is impressive in its scope and forethought and in its ideas for improving the horse racing business model in Ontario.
In fact it is a completely new model which horse racing has needed badly for a long time but especially now since the government has put us in this position. I think some people have attacked this plan without really understanding it. It is very complex and requires a lot of study.
Probably the most important point for people to understand is that the dollar figure that the plan is asking for from the government is separate from the deals that the tracks make regarding slots at their facilities. Each track that keeps their slots will make a deal for having them on their property.
WEG and Western Fair have tremendous and valuable properties which gives them huge bargaining power. I have to say that I am dismayed and irritated when I see or hear these recent attacks against WEG, WFR, and OHRIA. These are the smartest people in the business working their butts off to save horse racing in Ontario.
WEG’s mandate is to provide quality horse racing. We are so lucky that WEG is set up the way it is. If they were a privately owned company we would all be in big trouble.
Horse racing has very few friends and they include WEG, WF, GR, Clinton, Hanover and hopefully a couple of others. We have to work with them and appreciate them and hope they can all work out a good deal. If the government won’t protect us, they are all we have.
Getting back to this document, I urge the critics to study it thoroughly. It talks about new forms of gambling and revenue for tracks, it talks about tracks being partnered with private gambling operators, it talks about tracks running the slots themselves, it provides for tracks with no slots to run live racing with good purses provided from this new fund controlled by OHRIA, it talks about racing being accountable, possibly some live harness racing at Ajax and lots more.
Again, I urge critics to thoroughly examine this document before forming opinions. This plan, if accepted by the government, would set us on a new course with a better business model that would give us a chance to be sustainable into the future.