Ontario is eliminating its slots at racetrack program but British Columbia is taking steps to improve revenues for its racetracks. The BCLC will nearly double the amount of on-track slots revenues that the Fraser Downs and Hastings Racecourse tracks receive beginning in 2013 in an effort to revitalize the horseracing industry. The move is in response to reports that warned Hastings could close after 120 years in business without an injection of desperately needed revenues.
BC’s Minister of Gaming Rich Coleman made the announcement last week as a part of the continuing partnership between the province and the Great Canadian Gaming Corporation, which operates the two provincial racetracks. The racetracks will receive 25 percent of all on-track slots revenues beginning in 2013, up from the current 15.5 percent – an increase that will raise the total slot revenue for the two tracks to over $10 million a year. Coleman says the higher revenues are part of a plan to provide stability for an “important employment generator in the agricultural and entertainment industries.”
The BC horseracing industry is responsible for approximately 3,600 jobs with an additional 7,400 residents receiving some form of income from racing, but the industry has struggled in the face of increasing competition. Coleman indirectly cited the expansion of online gaming and online slots as a direct threat to the future stability of the horseracing industry.
“The industry is confronted with competing entertainment attractions that necessitate new, innovative approaches to this sector.”
The province announced plans for improving racetrack revenues in March in reaction to reports that Hastings Racecourse would have closed in November at the expiration of its lease agreement without a new revenue plan. The closure was delayed as revenue negotiations continued, which lead to the Great Canadian Gaming Corporation signing a new operating agreement that will continue the racetrack’s business through November, 2014. Great Canadian CEO Rod Baker says he hopes the two year agreement will be extended once a new business plan is negotiated with the province.
“This agreement provides British Columbia’s horse racing industry with additional time to develop strategies that will strengthen its long-term sustainability.”