Two years ago, the OLG cancelled the lucrative slots at racetrack program that saw the provincial gambling regulator share slots revenue with racetrack owners and horse breeders. Prior to cancellation, the program brought in approximately $345 million each year, and provided the horseracing industry at large over $3.4 billion over 10 years.
With backlash from horse breeders and rural Ontarians over the program’s cancellation, the OLG with assistance from the Ontario government, struggled to find an alternative way to help the horseracing industry. But after two years of negotiations, little has been brought to the table and the Standardbred Breeders of Ontario Association has finally had enough.
The association is suing the OLG for cancelling the slots at racetrack program, and failing to provide an alternative source of revenue in the interim. The OLG has focused its efforts on its gambling modernization strategy that shifts the focus of gambling in Ontario to urban centres with privatized casinos.
The pending lawsuit is worth $65 million, with $60 million due to “negligence and/or intentional misrepresentation, breach of contract and unjust enrichment” while another $5 million is for what the association says is punitive damages. The OLG says it has not officially been served the suit, and will wait for the paperwork before issuing a response.
The Ontario government committed over $400 million to the horseracing industry over the next five years, with $80 million given directly to racetrack owners. But that commitment pales in comparison to the revenue from racetrack slots, and the industry is struggling to remain relevant in the modern gambling world.