Thursday, January 10, 2013

Ontario Situation is Quite Perplexing

I got a call yesterday from an Ontario kinda-insider about the political landscape in Ontario regarding the slots-at-racetracks program. We got to talking and he asked me what I thought would happen.

My answer was "I have no idea." It's the same answer I had about a year ago.

This is not a simple question, and questions that aren't simple rarely have a simple answer. 

The problem we're having now has to do with the political landscape, and who wants what.

The OLG hired Paul Godfrey in 2009 to change the struggling franchise.  Godfrey ran the Toronto Blue Jays and Metro Council and he is a Conservative insider. He was hired by the Liberals, with tacit approval from the minority NDP party. All three parties seem to like him.

As well, all three parties need money if they form a government. Ontario has some of the worst debt of any entity in the world. It's a mess. With the wheels in motion can any party stop the ball from rolling; a ball that has already been rolled half way down the mountain? Especially when all three parties have said yes to expanded gambling?

If you were in the US and had a small business and Romney was running, you probably voted for him. About 80% of such people did, because they knew what they'd get. If you were a big supporter of health care for everyone you voted the opposite, you knew what you were going to get. Everything is nice and compartmentalized on any number of issues.

In Ontario you have no idea what you're going to get.  All three parties provide lip service, but lip service is what they do best.

There will likely be an election in the fall. It will probably be a dog fight between conservatives and socialists. Whomever wins might do exactly what's been proposed.

Or maybe they won't.

Such is the political landscape in Ontario.  It's about as clear as mud. The problem for horse racing as I see it, is that you can't hitch your wagon to a train when you have no idea where the train is headed. Especially when all three trains might have the same destination.

Notes:

Pennsylvania is losing slot revenue as well to the general fund. Unlike Ontario they still get over $100 million though.

The Dutrow saga is unfolding similar to how the Bill Robinson thing did up here. It looks like he's off to Federal court now.

The Meadowlands continues to draw handle. It will be interesting to see what happens when their competition opens. I suspect if entries dry up a bit they will run fewer than 11 or 12 races to ensure the brand (this years brand, which was the brand of early 2000 with full fields) is not hurt too much.

You didn't need to be Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to figure out this: "High Stakes Gambling Machines Hit Poorest Communities Hardest" . To think, those communities played horse racing for years.

Two Kinds of Mistakes, via Godin:  "There is the mistake of overdoing the defense of the status quo, the error of investing too much time and energy in keeping things as they are. And then there is the mistake made while inventing the future, the error of small experiments gone bad. We are almost never hurt by the second kind of mistake and yet we persist in making the first kind, again and again.

Have a great day everyone.


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