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Horse Racing's Managing Director's Retiring Pot Shot Speaks Volumes

Racing is now a quasi-government entity in a lot of places, but perhaps nowhere more so in North America than Ontario. Yesterday, the Managing Director and Special Advisor to the Minister in charge of the sport in the government sent a letter to the industry upon his resignation. One part of it turned some heads (emphasis mine).
  • Beware of WEG’s dominant position. In the proposed structures of administration not only are they a player, they are the scorekeeper and referee. They are becoming too big to challenge and yet it must be recognized their success depends in large part on the significant partnership with the Ontario government and its ongoing funding support. With so much of tax payers monies invested in this company, there needs to be careful scrutiny and accountability.
As we've often spoke about here, regulatory capture - in effect, the industry directing policy rather than having it dictated - has served racing pretty well.  But, this bureaucrat sees Woodbine's power not as an asset for the business but one that should be watched closely, or in the worst case feared.

This is not much different than we anecdotally hear from our friends in Kentucky who speak about one large corporation dictating policy, rather than living and abiding with it.

In Ontario, Mr. Walling went even further, proposing that Woodbine's internet betting arm (HPI, a near betting monopoly in Canada, probably doing $400M or more in handle a year) should be taken over by the sport, not run by Woodbine:
  •  Because of this market participation and dominance, I would recommend that HPI be operated by Ontario Racing; thus being operated for the entire industry with the revenue generated being used to support O/R and the industry. To me, the WEG role continues to be the biggest challenge to the Industry.
Whoa. How about that shot - of all racing's problems and challenges, one of their own heads the list.

This betting platform is well known to betting customers like S.H. for their increasing of takeout rates on simulcast, and other assorted player maladies.
Now as players we certainly don't want betting arms taken over by the government, ugh, but there are some powerful people who sure do.

Regardless, Mr. Walling's words are pretty eye and ear opening. I don't think I've heard such strong language ever used, and Woodbine (and racing in Ontario) probably needs to take action.

Have a great Thursday everyone.

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