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Ontario Election Results: Racing Probably Has to Get Cracking

In the Ontario election last evening, the governing party won another go-round, this time with a majority government. As most know, both the Conservatives and NDP promised some sort of return of the slots at racetrack program, while the Lib's have implemented their four year plan, to try and get racing to be self-sufficient.

I have said before, and believed it most certainly, that whichever party won the election, not a lot would change in the short-term for horse racing. I think some form of the current partnership between the government and horse racing would continue. But that was before last night: No one honestly expected a majority government.

Ontario - an economic powerhouse for a century up until the early 2000's -  is pretty much broke. With a majority, the governing Liberal's can now do what they want, without any other party approval, and they certainly will have to make some tough decisions to at least look like they care about the massive debt Ontario has racked up. Their main constituency - government workers, teachers, unionized folks on the public purse who have made out like bandits salary-wise the last ten years - probably won't be touched. What might be first to go? Well, how about the $100 million or so for horse racing people: Those rural folks in riding's the Liberal's couldn't win if they ran Old MacDonald.

I think it's a very important time for horse racing. After the four years of the initial deal are up (maybe a year or two sooner, if the Lib's start cutting) horse racing may find themselves on their own.

I think the industry needs to instill a new sense of urgency. $250k handles at Fort Erie probably means no more Fort Erie this next year, or in four years. The "Alliance" tracks need to bring in more revenue, or the "Alliance" tracks will be trimmed to two from eight. Right now progress has been made in Ontario horse racing, and that's good. But they might want to turn things up a notch; approve new ideas in weeks not months; create tighter timelines for change, etc.  Funding that racing is counting on might not be long-term funding, and with a Liberal majority might be gone much sooner than everyone thinks.


Comments

Pacingguy said…
What if they took the trotters to Fort Erie part of the year? Would that help both breeds>