Impact of the Slots at Racetracks Program by the Numbers:
- Slots at racetracks generate $1.1 billion dollars in revenue for the OLG, making it the biggest contributor to the OLG’s bottom line.
- OLG provided the Ontario Government $1.9 billion in the 2009-2010 fiscal year, 60% of that came from the Slots at Racetracks Program.
- That money gets invested into hospitals, the volunteer sector and municipal projects; meaning Ontarians get better services without having to pay more in taxes.
History of the Program
In the late 1990’s and throughout the past decade, the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (now the OLG) entered into a revenue sharing agreement with the horse racing industry and host municipalities in Ontario to allow the placement of slot machines at racetracks.
The racetracks provided the OLG with access to their existing facilities, saving the government the massive expense of building their own facilities and having to gain the approval of municipalities and the public to build gambling venues in their back yards. This agreement was not entered into lightly by the horse racing industry. After more than two years of economic review and negotiation, both the horse racing industry and the Ontario government’s Management Board of Cabinet agreed that a 20% share of the slots revenue could offset the loss of horse racing’s wagering dollar and customer base to sustain the horse racing industry. This revenue share would also help to offset the cost of operating and maintaining the buildings and properties in which the OLG’s government operated slots are housed.
For more than 10 years, the Slots at Racetracks Program has been a highly successful partnership which has allowed the horse racing industry to sustain itself and continue providing many economic benefits to the rural and municipal economies, while earning the provincial government more than $1.1 billion dollars in revenue every year.
The OLG revenue sharing program has offset the negative financial impact slots at racetracks would otherwise have on the racing industry’s bottom line. The ever increasing competition imposed by the slots and other expanded gaming would further erode the wagering dollar to the point that the industry’s survival would be at serious risk. The government is looking to reduce the horse racing industry’s revenue share at a time when they are looking to expand their own gaming operations in direct competition with horse racing. In addition, if the proposed changes to the Criminal Code are implemented, the provinces will be allowed to operate sports betting, once again in direct competition with the horse racing industry.
Out of the more than 60,000 jobs that would be at risk, many of those employed have worked in the industry all their lives, some are even second and third generation racetrack workers who would be unlikely to find jobs in other industries.
By preserving the existing program, the government would continue to collect $1.1 billion dollars annually from the race horse industry while ensuring Ontario’s horse racing industry remains economically sound for those rural communities and the 60,000 families that rely on the race horse industry for employment.