The former Ontario government, headed up by Dalton McGuinty, pulled the rug out from under the horseracing industry this past spring in what can only be called a very premature effort to move slot machines to a Toronto-area casino (or so the most reputable theory goes). Just how premature was the move? Well, there is, as of now, still no actual agreed upon plan to build said casino, or any other casino for that matter, but the fallout from the end of the Slots at Racetrack program is so very real to thousands in Ontario who have seen their livelihoods disappear in as little as 12 months.
There were those hanging on to see last week’s five-year horseracing industry plan that Kathleen Wynne’s government recently rolled out before making decisions on a way forward, but the numbers don’t lie. Over 40% of Thoroughbred mares and stallions have disappeared from Ontario in just one year — the number is roughly 70% in the Standardbred industry — and with this latest “plan” more are sure to exit the industry as the business case for breeding, raising and training racehorses in the province has evaporated.
Over 9,000 jobs have already been lost in the province, many of them from rural areas, and more are to come on the heels of this “plan”, says Bernard Tobin, Ontario field editor for RealAgriculture.com (full disclosure: and racehorse owner) in this video interview. Tobin and RealAg editor Lyndsey Smith discuss the five-year plan that’s rather light on deadlines, responsibility and financing, and how the horseracing industry may be able to save what’s left but only through working with its former nemesis, Ontario Lottery and Gaming (OLG).
If you cannot see the embedded video, click here.