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Friday, March 8, 2013

The Big Press Conference - Hold Down the Excitement

Premier Wynne had her press conference at Grand River Raceway this afternoon to discuss the situation with racing.  Quite honestly, if I had to sum up her press conference with one word, I would use 'Calm Down' (okay, it was two).  Basically, Wynne came to calm down the masses who had no clue if they were going to be in or out of business come April 1.  The only thing significant is she told those who race on the 'B' and 'C' circuit that there will be a place to race this year; how many days remains to be seen.

Other than announcing  Western Fair, Clinton, Hanover, and Grand River signed three year transition agreements to continue to race with more tracks expected to race as well in 2013 (In fact on Monday a press conference will be held Monday at Fort Erie, and Woodbine and Mohawk are a 'go'), little has changed.

Let's go over what the Premier said:

  • There will be integration of racing into the province's gaming plan- Already knew that before.  What does that mean?    That could be new revenue sources (see the next one) or even the OLG running racing (similar to PMU in France).   If you want to be optimistic, perhaps casinos will be allowed at racetracks, at least getting people to show up at the track, but there is no guarantee about this.  
  • Calls for developing new revenue sources for racing.  Didn't they talk about sports wagering and a V75-type wager before?  Again, nothing new here.  Don't forget they mentioned in the report that such revenue would be used to keep racing going; purses would still be based on handle.
  • The industry will be smaller than it has been in the past.  The contraction talked about before is still on the table..
  • The transition period will be for three years at which time the new revenue streams need to be in place.  Said before.
  • The agreements with the tracks will cover operating expenses.  Horsemen will still be racing for what they earn via wagering handle.  Purses are going to be cut this year, just like they said..

Wynne did refuse to do what her fellow Liberals said in the past; refer to slot revenue as a subsidy.  Wynne admitted what there was 'an arrangement' between the OLG and the tracks in the past.

The bottom line is racing come April 1 is going to be like the government said.  The only new thing is instead of hearing nothing and wondering what is going on, the industry is hearing some 'B' and 'C' tracks are definitely signed up to race for three more years while others may still chose to close up.

A sigh of relief perhaps, nothing to jump for joy about.

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