Ward 3 Councillor Claude Berthiaume, who represents Chelmsford, Onaping and Levack in Ontario, Canada, recently filed a motion of support to keep gaming at Sudbury Downs racetrack in Chelmsford. Berthiaume’s motion is in response to a recent report from Bonnie Lysyk, auditor general of Ontario. The report stated Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation’s modernization plan to downsize, restructure and privatize slots casinos within one and a half years was “overly optimistic” and “overly ambitious” and could seriously harm the province’s horseracing industry.
OLG’s Slots at Racetracks program was an agreement that racetracks that installed OLG slot machines could share the revenue from them, along with the municipality and the government. However, in 2012, the provincial government announced it would save money by ending Slots at Racetracks.
Lysyk said, “OLG developed its modernization plan without sufficiently consulting such stakeholders as municipalities and the horseracing industry. The profit estimates should have been more realistic, and the abrupt impact on the horseracing industry could have been mitigated had more people been consulted beforehand.” The report also said OLG’s initial projection of an extra $4.6 billion in profit due to restructuring also was unrealistic. Lysyk estimated profits would drop by 60 percent, or $1.8 billion, if Toronto and Ottawa rejected the casinos.
At the moment, all Ontario racetracks except Sudbury Downs have reached agreements with the government and will hold a season this year. Sudbury Downs Mayor Marianne Matichuk said recently she have given up on racing coming to Sudbury.