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Ontario Looks at Historical Racing

Woodbine Entertainment Group of Ontario, Canada, could add historical racing to replace revenue from the Slots at Racetracks program, which has come to an end. The games allow players to wager on races of the past, pulled from a library of thousands.

Owners sue OLG and Ontario for loss of SARP

Now that Ontario’s Slots at Racetracks program has ended, Woodbine Entertainment Group in the province may add historical racing to boost revenues. As the name indicates, the games allow players to wager on videos of races that have already taken place.

Nick Eaves, Woodbine president and CEO, told the Ontario Guelph Mercury that the games are widely considered a parimutuel sport, so the industry would legally be able to retain most of the revenue from the machines.

Historical racing could be “an important piece of expanding the product mix and generating new revenue,” Eaves said. “It is a priority for sure in terms of a new product that can go into the system, that could be on-track, off-track, online, that can attract a new customer and, hopefully, deliver a new revenue stream to the industry.”

In 2013, historical racing machines at Kentucky Downs in the U.S. added $4 million to purses and breeders’ award money, the Mercury reported.

Last month standardbred horse breeders filed a $65 million lawsuit against the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. over the cancellation of the slots at racetrack program. They say the abrupt cancellation of the program has cost them income, though racetrack owners received more than $80 million in compensation, the Ottawa Citizen reported.

“The manner in which the OLG and Ontario terminated the program was arbitrary, capricious, irrational and demonstrates bad faith by the OLG and Ontario,” the claim alleges.

“Instead of working with the horse racing industry to make the SARP program more transparent and accountable, the Liberal government chose a callous and short-sighted approach that negatively impacted the economy in rural Ontario and hurt horse people around the province,” said Essex MPP Taras Natyshak.

The breeders say OLG and the province led them to believe SARP was a long-term revenue-sharing partnership, though it was hinted several years ago that the program was on shaky footing.