Horse Racing in Ontario is under attack by the Liberal Government and we need your help to save it!
Why should you care?
Over 60,000 people are employed either full or part-time by the horse industry and the Slots at Race Tracks partnership program brings in more than a billion dollars a year for the provincial government. Every dollar collected is a tax dollar you don't have to pay. Health care and education reap great rewards from this program. It also means that people invest in horse racing through racing and breeding programs that helps the industry grow which creates a healthy economy and in turn generates thousands of tax dollars that pay great dividends for the provincial coffers. With the current agreement the government collects 80% of the money generated in the program. If the government cancels this program because they want to keep 100% of the revenue from the slots at racetrack program rather than allowing the 20% share to be re-invested in the industry it will mean many of the 60,000 employed end up jobless and possibly on social assistance programs rather than being productive taxpaying citizens. Which makes more sense to you?
Find out how you can have your voice heard.
How OLG Slots at Racetracks termination affects Racing, Equine and Ontario Taxpayers
Standardbred owner Ed James was recently recognized at the leading owner at Grand River Raceway for 2011, but after today James might just be heralded as the leading owner in all of Canadian horse racing after paying for a full-page pro-racing ad in Monday's Toronto Star, questioning the recent attack on the horse racing industry by the Liberal government and the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp.
A longtime fixture in Canadian harness racing, James owns standardbreds in addition to SSG Riding Gloves. The ad, asking Ontarians to examine and rationalize the OLG's move to end the slots-at-racetracks program, appeared at the back of the GTA section of the Star. The text from the ad is as follows.
TO THE RESIDENTS OF ONTARIO
One man's opinion of a Government either lost in the fog or laying a smoke screen.
After 10 years of a successful and major income-generating contract for the Ontario Government and communities surrounding horse racing centres, in addition to the equine industry and racing operators, the Government has canceled the contract.
The profit split of the Slots-at-Racetracks program was: 75% going to the Government, 5% to surrounding communities (i.e. Windsor), 10% to the equestrian industry and 10% to the racetrack operators who provided the property where the slots are housed. Total Government income over the 10 years was over $16 billion dollars.
The apparent reason for the contract cancellation was the result of an analysis and recommendations of the Drummond Report, requested by the Government to find a solution to the spiraling deficits, created by the Liberal Government, in an effort to balance the budget.
In Chapter 17 of the Drummond Report pertaining to the Government's business enterprises, various recommendations were made. The two main subjects were the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) and the Ontario Lottery & Gaming Corporation (OLG).
LCBO: Recommendations were clear in Section 17-2 and hopefully will be followed.
OLG: The OLG recommendations were clear in Section 17-3:
1) *Close one of the two OLG head offices
2) *Close one of the two casinos in Niagara Falls
3) Allow slot machines in sites not co-related with horse racing venues i.e. bingo halls, etc.
4) *Stop subsidizing the purchasing and provisions of lottery terminals to point-of-sale locations and begin to introduce other points of sale for lotteries.
*Three out of four were cost reduction suggestions.
17-4 Recommended re-evaluation on a value-for-money basis, the practice of providing a portion of net slot revenues to the horse racing and breeding industry and municipalities in order to substantially reduce and better target that support.
(Freely translated by the Government: close the slots at racetrack program in spite of the contract. Some in 7 weeks, some in April of 2013 and open your own casinos for the benefit of yourselves and your casino operators)
Of the five recommendations pertaining to the OLG in the Drummond Report, three were cost reductions and two were income generators.
The Government chose to eliminate the income generators and ignore the cost reduction recommendations. I presume the three cost reductions went against the grain of the Government and might personally affect the lives of some of their individual appointments.
Better that than affecting 60,000 people, 31,000 full time, by putting them out of work.
The Drummond report refers to casino operators as from the 'private sector.' Let's talk about 'private sector.'
1) Caesars Windsor Casino is operated by Caesars Entertainment Corporation based out of Paradise Nevada. Do you call this the private sector?
2) Casino Rama is operated by Penn National Gaming from Wyomissing, Pennsylvania. How does this private sector benefit Ontario?
Both of these 'private sector' companies operate these casinos on a management fee basis - right off the top of the operation profits. Management fees can cross the border tax-free, funneling money into the U.S. casino operations. Great benefit to Ontario! But let's give them more casinos; how about 29 of them in fact? Yes, that's what your government had planned.
Maybe the current private sector managers have so impressed the Government in the past it might sway future opportunities the same way. Did you know that some large casinos operators in the U.S. have already hired lobbyists to present their case for inclusion in our Government plans for the future casinos to be built? Remember tax-free management fees going south.
Can you picture our Government's negotiating teams dealing with these US lobbyists for the benefit of Ontario?
Not a fair fight, the lobbyists have so much to offer - and gain. They will be trying to trade a pork chop for a pig.
The senior management team of one Las Vegas casino, as stated in the casino's proxy statement, earned the following income packages last year: the President's earnings were $113 million and the CEO $16.5 million. Do we want Canadian casino operating to add to that?
Understandably, invasion and management of Ontario's casinos would be an important accomplishment for this 'private sector.' Slots at Windsor Raceway were closed seven weeks after the OLG's decision to "make it easier for Windsorites to get to a casino (versus driving to a racetrack) and enjoy the benefits and convenience." That, I guess, is why there is a faux pas concern about the addiction of gambling; it seems ow government regards fall-out from gambling addiction as an enjoyment and benefit.
Visit Atlantic City sometime and see the people there on the streets enjoying the benefits - and just picture it - Ontario could have 29 scenes like this. Great vision for our province!
The spectre of potentially 60,000 Ontarians being forced out of work doesn't concern our Government as much as possible increases in tax revenue by opening more casinos for imported private sector management teams.
It always makes me feel uncomfortable when the President and CEO of the OLG, Rod Phillips, can make a statement like, "At the end of the day the OLG's role is to run gambling and lottery and the decision by the Government of where the money goes is a decision by the Government."
After discussing our situation a friend of mine said, "Ramrod Duncan strikes again!"
Do you want to live in a northern spin-off of Atlantic City or Las Vegas? Do you want to see over 30,000 horses slaughtered along with the successful Slots-at-Racetracks program which generates over $1.1 billion annually to our province? Talk to your local MPP and ask this question. Why, ten years ago, did Government parties make a contract to benefit communities, the horse industry and a reasonable number of casino operators as opposed to now - as Liberal parties now choose to benefit foreign casino operators and Government coffers with a story of a future balanced budget based on gambling proceeds.
The Crown corporation OLG's stated earlier, plan was to build 29 casinos throughout Ontario. These would eventually bring in $1.3 Billion for Provincial coffers.
The current slots at the races program brings in $1.1 Billion, why cancel?
Is there a hidden agenda?
If 64% of OLG's current revenue comes from slots at the racetracks program and a large majority of race tracks involved will be without the slots at the racetracks program a year from now, where is the shortfall going to come from?
Possibly some casino contracts have already been let and will be ready to go in a year. If not, a $1.1 Billion shortfall is critical. Maybe not.
If the Government was willing to shed some light it would help.
Why do I feel like I'm in Denmark or Mexico?
Have the inmates taken over?
Someone should start to ask questions and get answers before the black hole of Liberal deficits gets beyond control.
A concerned citizen, who happens to be a horse owner. Stay tuned.
Part 2 from Ed James
Published: July 16, 2012
It was roughly two months ago when standardbred racehorse owner Ed James put up his own money to have his article regarding the Ontario Liberal Government's plan to scrap the slots-at-racetracks program printed in an addition of The Toronto Star. James had promised that there was more to come, and he has followed through.
In his first letter, James had openly questioned the government's decision to do away with the SAR program. In his second letter, the contents of which appear below, James has essentially stated that by allowing U.S. casino operators to run at least a segment of the province's brick-and-mortar casino offerings, the Ontario Liberals will be jamming its coffers with capital which will allow the party to sustain and improve its political power in the province.
The contents of James' second ad appears below.
ONTARIO LIBERAL GOVERNMENT AND US CASINO OPERATORS SCORE A HOME RUN ON JUNE 20TH 2012
As Paul Harvey might have said, “This is the rest of the story.”
In my first article on May 14th I accused the Government of being lost in the fog or laying a smoke screen. The air has now cleared. They were laying a smoke screen and it worked. It was the opposition NDP and PCs who were lost in the fog.
The Liberal smoke screen / The perfect red herring was cancelling the slots at race tracks. A highly successful program contributing $1.1 billion annually to the Government coffers. But they wanted more without developing any programs to generate it. Along came the US Casino Operators Consortium with the answer. Now firmly entrenched in Windsor with Caesars Casino, in Northern Ontario with Casino Rama and in Niagara Falls with two casinos. All operated by the consortiums which includes Caesars in Las Vegas, Penn National Gaming in Pennsylvania, and a combination of families in New York and Chicago, operating the two casinos in Niagara Falls. These casinos not happy with their 40 per cent of profit tax free also wanted more. The perfect marriage made in hell.
Within five years the consortium would guarantee the government $2.5 billion annually in casino revenue and the deficit could be eliminated. From the Liberals' point of view the perfect answer no work or forethought. High returns politically and possibly personally. The conduit was the principles of the OLG. Hands clean for the casinos and the government both, everybody wins except the residents of Ontario. The government could now be supported and possibly controlled by income from their casinos, and the Liberal Government skirts were clean.
The elephant was now in the tent, however there was one hurdle in the way, the highly successful slots at racetrack program. The casino operator’s consortium apparently did not want any competition. The share of the slots at racetrack program, which now went to the communities around Windsor, Milton, etc, and to the equestrian industry supporting places like Guelph University etc. and the racetrack operators could all be theirs. But instead of 25 per cent they could get 40 per cent. A win win for them.
However, in order for this to happen the SAR Program had to be eliminated. The government who was obviously more than willing to cooperate issued the cancellation order. They had to prove to the consortium that they were good soldiers. Their possible proof was to cancel the SAR Program immediately at border locations Sarnia, Windsor, and Fort Erie. Possibly an immediate benefit to the consortiums, Canadians had to cross the border to their casinos where they got all the profits. The government didn’t have to kill anybody to prove their commitment. Maybe, starve to death a few of the potential 60,000 unemployed affected by the cancellation of the SAR Program, but who would notice? Then cancel the balance of the SAR one year later. All other casino competition gone, they now have it all. Fait accompli.
The other side of the coin is this. While paying the Ontario Liberal Government $2.5 billion a year, which is their 60 per cent share of the casino profits, their consortiums share of income at 40 per cent of the operating profits could become $1.65 billion a year tax free. Over four years between elections $6.5 billion earned may be enough to support the continuation of a Liberal Government in Ontario for eternity. Which has to be done to retain their operating contracts. There is a restriction on individual donations to candidates but no restriction on advertising support for candidates.
The consortiums might know how to sway elections with political contributions. It’s not that hard, Ontario becomes like the 51st state in the union controlled by politics and greed.
My take on a fairytale? I don’t think so!
This is how it could have happened. In order to put this plan into effect the Liberals had to pass their budget on June 20th, 2012 (remember that date). If the budget did not pass, they were facing an election. In view of the Liberals' attacks on doctors, teachers and the slots-at-racetracks program affecting possibly 60,000 people, they were in danger of losing numerous seats, enough to lose control of the Government and becoming a weak opposition. McGuinty and Duncan might be out of work.
Here is where the opposition was lost in the fog. To ensure the budget passed the Liberals had to find a foil. Up pops Andrea Horwath and the NDP. If they would abstain from the vote, the Liberals would be home free. What did it take? Liberals passed Bill 114 Tax Amendment Act 2012 the same day as the budget passed. The NDP could carry their banners high for increasing taxes to corporations and high wage earning residents. The perfect pork chop for a pig deal by the Liberals.
In some circles Canada is known as the land of hockey players and whores. How is double passing of bills on the same day, June 20th, for stick handling?
What Ms. Horwath did not realize (historically politicians are not known for their foresight), she possibly sounded the death knell for the NDP and Conservative parties in Ontario from ever having a majority. Money has to be spent on elections, NDP and Progressive Conservatives have limited budgets, Liberals possibly now, with support from the casino operators have a bottomless pit for supporting Liberal candidates.
For the Liberal Party, casino management consortiums and OLG, full speed ahead they now have no roadblocks!
Robin Hood’s program of robbing from the rich and giving to the poor has been reversed by your Liberal government. Their plan is to take from the poor and give to the rich. Not exactly what Robin had in mind.
They also reversed another old adage --- they started with the pillaging first.
Two books you should read outlining government scams are 'The Weasel' by Adrian Humphreys explaining some of the provincial political scams and 'A Capital Scandal' by Robert Fife and John Warren, explaining some federal political scams.
They might scare you!
This scam is right up there with them!
My late father had a great saying, “when money talks honesty walks.”
Maybe he was right!
Ontario wake up and smell the horses***t emanating from the NDP and Liberal coalition!
Ed James, a citizen and horse owner, now more concerned than before.
Stay tuned I still have some of my first communion money left.
By Diane Graham, OEF Executive Director.
There has been much written regarding the plight of the horse racing industry in Ontario since the Drummond report announcement, including the OEF response “Silence is Not an Option.” Every affected professional group, association and municipality has voiced its concern regarding the far reaching ramifications from the loss of slot machine revenue and its effects on the continued viability for racing in this province.
You may be asking, “How does this possibly affect me? I have nothing to do with racing. I have never even been to a racetrack. I have other things to do and I am busy.” Perhaps even, “Stop bugging me about this, I have heard enough already” or “Doesn’t the OEF have better things to do with its time?” It is critical we take notice of this issue; there will be no second chances. Put very simply, we are an industry on the verge of crisis.
The horse racing industry has provided equestrian sport with a great many of the benefits and services to which it has become accustomed. If the racing sector was to disappear, the world class standards that the sport horse community now enjoys will over time cease to exist. The quality and availability of feed suppliers, farriers, veterinary services, equine education, including extensive horse welfare research would not continue to be offered in Ontario. Independent product development and innovation are strong and available at an affordable cost and we have access to some of the best equine knowledge and facilities in the world because of racing. Benevolent programs, such as therapeutic riding, will suffer deeply without the large monetary donations racing has provided. Additionally, it is racing that is responsible for funding the multi-million dollar facility expansions at the University of Guelph and the multitude of private veterinarian clinics throughout the province. Sport and recreation are benefactors of both the racing industry’s desire for excellence and education. Are we not all better because of it?
What will happen to your hay bills if farmers lose a significant portion of their market? Farmers have reported to me of losing individual hay orders of over $10,000. What about your veterinarian who cannot make ends meet in Ontario? A veterinarian specialist told me last week that their business is already down over 25%. What about the farrier, the commercial shipping company, the local car dealership and the barn builder to name just a few? What will happen when your horse is sick and there is no help for him because there was no funding for the research that could have helped him? What about all the people who will lose their way of life or the thousands of horses that will most certainly be destined for slaughter? One veterinarian asked me “Do we have to show this government a pit filled with euthanized horses before they will listen? Do we have to relegate decent hard working people whom have been tax paying citizens all their lives to becoming welfare recipients? Does any of this bother you?“
The OEF was forced to shelve a horse welfare program that took a great deal of time and effort to develop because the racing industry was no longer in a financial position to fund it. This program could have had an impact on hundreds and over time thousands of horses. What does the future hold for these horses now? Tragically, this is just the beginning. Hundreds of breedings have been cancelled, tractor orders halted, new barn buildings ceased. I have reports of abattoirs doubling the size of their holding pens in Quebec. Over 20,000 horses in this province are now vulnerable and in excess of 60,000 people stand to loose their jobs.
Our ability to mobilize will determine the legacy we leave for the next generation. Ontario has a breeding and racing program that has become one of the most successful and envied in the world. This has not been a subsidy program but a payment for services rendered and has resulted in the stimulation and successful rebirth of many of Ontario’s rural communities. What has taken lifetimes to develop and cultivate will be decimated. Your actions regarding this issue could impact the future of the horse industry in Ontario.
We could place blame here on how and why the industry got to this place and whom allowed it to happen. The time to answer those questions will come, but now the industry is in survival mode and they need our support. If sport and recreational horse owners as a group do nothing, we play right into this government’s hands because that’s what they are expecting. Let’s change the play! I challenge each and every one of you to create some noise and “be the difference”!
Contact your local MPP and let them know what you think about this issue and the long-term impact it will have on the future of our sport and the livelihoods of those involved. You could also unite fellow horse owners in your area to organize a rally and have your voice heard.
My Ontario Includes Horse Racing…Does Yours?
The future is now. Make a difference. Be heard.
Ontario Equestrian Federation
1 West Pearce St., Suite 201,
Richmond Hill, ON L4B 3K3
P: (905) 709-6545, TF: 1-877-441-7112
The Impact on an Ontario Blacksmith, Michael Boland, Award Winning Cinema photographer
Michael takes us into the home and workplace of a blacksmith and his family. One of over 55,000 families in Ontario that will immediately suffer a 30%+ cut in wages of due to the recent decision of the Ontario Goveernment.