Is Horse Racing Critical to the Future of Ontario Agriculture?

The Ontario Government recently announced that they will be ending the relationship of horse racing and slot machines.  Some free marketers are cheering the decision and others are weeping for the end of the horse racing business in Ontario.

I spoke to several farmers this week and this is definitely a hot button issue.   A couple farmers told me that the horse racing business is dying a slow death and no one is going anyways so why do we even care.  While others told me that horse racing is a part of the fabric of rural Ontario and the government must reconsider.

Personally I know several people that are either apart of ownership syndicates or own their own horses outright that they race weekly.  Naturally they are very upset with this decision.

According to,

Under an arrangement set in 1998, when the slot machines started moving into the tracks, a deal was struck that allowed the province to receive 75 per cent of the profits — or about $1 billion a year — while 20 per cent went to the track and the remaining five per cent went to the host municipality.

OLG was directed on Monday to initiate a massive redirection of the province’s gambling industry aimed at increasing the number of slot machine facilities in new, “strategic” locations and increasing the sale of lottery tickets, among other plans. A report from OLG contends the moves will increase revenues by $1 billion yearly, and create 2,300 jobs in the gaming industry and another 4,000 jobs in the hospitality and retail sectors by 2018.

Mark Wales, President of the OFA recently wrote on the OFA blog that this decision will have a very serious adverse impact on the agriculture community in Ontario.  Wales states in the post,

In other words, the proposed modernization plan is a gamble. And a very risky gamble for our province to be taking because the OLG does not appear to consider, in any way, the potential cost of these proposed changes – they are only looking at the possible increase in revenue.  The OLG is gambling and the stakes are Ontario’s horse racing industry, rural communities and thousands of small businesses.

What is your opinion?  Should the slot machines fund the racetracks in Ontario or should the industry have to survive on their own?  Is horse racing something worth subsidizing?  How critical is it to rural Ontario communities?

Please state your opinions in the contact section below.

2 thoughts on “Is Horse Racing Critical to the Future of Ontario Agriculture?

  1. Really? Do we have to kill everything in name of “free market”? I just wish that we could look at things more often from the concept of “public good”

  2. Lets look at the way your question was worded. First and foremost there was never a “subsidy” to the Horse Racing Industry, lets agree to eliminate that word, and call it what it really is/was, a revenue sharing business agreement, introduced by the Government to compensate for money that was once wagered on horse racing, when it, along with lottery tickets were the only form of gambling in Ontario. It’s a business agreement that works for all parties involved. So if asked the question, should the current revenue sharing agreement stay intact, and the Government hold up it’s end of said agreement? Yes, of course they should. Should they keep upwards of 60,000 people employed? Yes, of course they should. I would suggest, that the author of this article, get some more information on the devastating ripple effects this would have on rural Ontario and use his voice to inform, and educate. Visit for up to date information.

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