However, so far it has failed to resonate (we surmised this might be happening last year). Casino votes in Toronto and Vaughn, for example, were not exactly pro-casino. It is reported in the piece that other municipalities will be looking at it. I guess there are some cities out there who will want a casino, but they probably won't be where the government wants them to be, to ensure max revenues.
What is going ahead with the OLG, is the amalgamation between it and horse racing; proposed in the initial brief almost two years ago. This amalgamation, and the resulting funding announced late last year, looks to provide racing with some sound footing to build upon.
If this softening of expanded gaming continues, either with this government or the next one, this could be a real boon for horse racing in the province.
- Rent payments may continue longer-term for tracks who house slots, like Flamboro, Western Fair and Woodbine.
- With no municipalities stepping up to the plate, a casino is an easier sell at Woodbine than anywhere else near a big population.
- Horse racing has always needed to be linked with the OLG to grow. It is, and should be for the foreseeable future. This link is essential to bring in new bets, exchanges, or anything else.
- Horse racing always needed a central structure. $8,000 handles at a track giving out $60,000 in purses was not only unsustainable, it was a pox on racing's house and contributed to its downfall. These imbalances will not happen anymore with a central organization with power.
- Customers initiatives will continue to trump others for the short-period. This is a "resetting" of the market from a supply driven one to a demand driven one. It'll take time to balance. Early indications, when looking at handles at smaller tracks like Western Fair and Grand River, are positive.
- Poor scheduling, distributing of the signal, home market areas built for a different generation, fights over slot money and many other sub-optimal issues dragged down the sport for years. We're already seeing the difference with purse-pooling and other initiatives that we have not seen in the history of horse racing, anywhere. It's a different world.
It may mean that horse racing has a future in the Province.
No there won't be 18 racetracks; or racing for the sake of racing, or slot machines back at the track with 10% going to purses and profits - in today's day and age that's just never going to happen. But there will be revenue, there will be opportunity. Racing is already in the gambling fabric of Ontario, and with fewer and fewer Queen's Park foot soldiers to enact a massive expansion the public does not want, it's probably a good place to be.