The Premier announced deals with four tracks for transition money and relayed she is fully behind the transitional panel's recommendation of integrating the OLG plan with horse racing.
The first part of that announcement is a band aid, the second part is perhaps most important, because it involves certain possibilities that can achieve long term growth.
They may or may not include:
- A stand alone casino at Woodbine
- A horse racing lottery
- Sports betting at racetracks
- New avenues to up the bet in Ontario
- And OLG/Racing gaming partnership, where it is run not unlike a PMU or Sweden ATG
And knowing that, the above announced today is probably better than anyone could've hoped for. It is infinitely better than what was proposed 12 months ago.
And it solidifies this salient fact: Ontario is not New Jersey, and thank god it isn't.
There the rug was pulled under racing, and they were given one year of 'casino subsidy money' totalling peanuts then told "don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out". We saw an "elite meet" at Monmouth, then a struggle. We saw terrible card after terrible card at the Meadowlands, where it could've become a parking lot. The industry is decimated beyond belief there.
In Ontario the industry will be smaller, of course. You can't take $345 million away from something and have it be bigger, or anywhere near the size it was. There is a chance, however, and it is more than a fluttering chance or one that's remote, that the industry can start to be rebuilt.
Ontario won't be New Jersey. And Ontario of today isn't the "don't let the door hit you" Ontario of one year ago. That's a good thing.