The government has directed the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation review the number of gaming sites it operates and to wind down the Slots at Racetracks program on March 31, 2013, according to a press release issued this morning.
It is unclear how the raceway and gaming facility in Clinton will be affected. OLG Slots at Clinton Raceway, which opened its doors in 2000, employed 92 people in 2011 and operates more than 100 slot machines. Clinton Raceway operates a half-mile track, stabling and paddocks, with about 20 race days through the summer months. The raceway, which has operated for 42 years, employs 70 people at the height of racing season, and has 32 horse people.
It will also change the fee model for municipalities hosting gaming sites. The Municipality of Central Huron receives five per cent of slot revenue, which injected $640,000 into its coffers in 2011.
“We are focused, more than ever, on balancing the budget while continuing to provide the best education and health care in the world. Modernizing OLG’s operations and business model is an example of how we are ensuring our assets are delivering the greatest value to taxpayers,” said Dwight Duncan, who is the minister of finance.
Duncan announced last month the province would evaluate what he referred to as a “subsidy” of up to $345 million yearly to support horseracing in Ontario. He said the money may be better spent on health care and education.
Raceway operators say they are not subsidized. Instead, they say they are business partners who receive 10 per cent of revenue as the owners of the buildings in which slots are located. Another 10 per cent goes to horsemen purses, divided among winners during the summer racing series and five per cent goes to host municipalities.
The recently released Drummond Report is recommending that Ontarian’s have alternative sites to racetracks where they can play the slots.
The Drummond Commission was formed to look at program and service efficiencies. Its report is expected to help shape the 2012 budget.
The government has directed the OLG to implement a number of other proposals:
- Reconfigure the number of gaming sites and tailor the types of gaming activities made available at each site;
- Launch multi-lane sales of lottery tickets at major retail outlets, including grocery stores;
- Increase operational efficiencies by expanding the role of the private sector; and
- Allow one new casino in the GTA, subject to an OLG business case and municipal approval.This story will be updated.