Archived Letter – 413

IGNORANCE IS BLISS!!! I wish to respond to Murray Gold’s letter to the editor “Not really at risk” in the Wellington Advertiser, published on July 27, 2012. Murray, why havent you mentioned your affiliation with the Liberal Party of Ontario as a card-carrying member of the Wellington-Halton Hills Liberal Association? Its easy to look at one small aspect of the figures you quote in you letter to the editor but most of the information that you quote is obviously skewed to make your point and support the Liberal Party of Ontario on its genocide of the horse racing industry. Where did you get your “facts” that you quoted in your letter? You said, Last year $415 million of taxpayer dollars went to race track owners. In the next line you went on to say a half a billion dollars, making horse racing subsidies equal to a significant portion of the current budget deficit. WHERE is it written that this money belongs to the taxpayers of Ontario? How is this a subsidy? How can you equate someone putting his or her disposable income into a slot machine as “hard earned taxpayers money”? It does not belong to you or the average taxpayer. If someone wishes to gamble their money on slots, lottery tickets, casinos, pro-line sports or any other gaming instrument, betting with their DISPOSABLE income (by the way if people are smart with their money they should considered as after tax dollars] why does that belong to taxpayers? STOP CALLING IT A SUBSIDY…This is a complete and utter lie perpetrated courtesy of the Liberal Party of Ontario! A party of which you are a member! In 1998, our industry entered into a partnership agreement with the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) to place slot machines at racetracks. OLG wanted to increase its revenues through expanded gaming, and racetracks with well?established gaming centres represented logical locations for these slot premises. While racing was fully aware that exposing its customer base to slot gaming could cannibalize pari?mutual betting (it has), nevertheless, the opportunity to expand overall revenues thru the negotiated revenue sharing agreement would be good for racing and lead to expanded investment in both racing and breeding. The Program has been a complete success for the OLG in terms of its share of revenue. The OLG took in some $1.1 Billion from slots at our racetracks in 2011. Recently, the Government has resorted to calling this Program a subsidy for horse racing. Frankly, its counterproductive to spend time outlining all the reasons this Program is unfairly characterized as a subsidy; however, the current financial rewards for both the racing and breeding, not to mention most importantly Government, are necessities for the sustainability of all parties. Slots proceeds fuelled our breeding and racing industry and transformed the Ontario Sires Stakes (OSS??a program for young horses produced here) into a powerful incentive for anyone to purchase horses sired and raised in this Province. As breeders, we experienced growth thru expanded yearling sales, the migration of top quality stallions to Ontario, and through boarding out? of?Province horses. Over the past several years, we have been able to develop a strong U.S. market for our product based on the appeal of the OSS program. This has resulted in a large net positive for the Ontario economy as we have profited from the sale of horses, the purchase of stallion services, boarding fees and training and racing revenues. In short, Ontario breeders and the agricultural economy have been major beneficiaries of investment from outside the Province resulting from the Industrys use of its share of slot revenues. Next point, you mention, So with25% of owners involved in the OSS being American, a large portion of taxpayer dollars are going to the United States. You do NOT tell the whole story! You have NO idea of how much money gets spent by Americans in Ontario, to buy, train, race, feed, have veterinary or farrier work done on these horses while in Ontario. Its been documented that for every $1 taken out of Ontario by Americans involved with horse racing, there is $3 put back into the economy. The OSS used to be the envy of all of harness racing in North America from both a racing & breeding perspective and it attracted many quality stallions and breeding businesses owned by Americans. Tell me Murray, how much money do you think the owners and operators of the large American gaming corporations are going to take out of Ontario, once they have built their Casinos. They have promised the Liberal government of Ontario $2.5 billion in revenue once things are up and going. If they are giving the Liberal government $2.5 billion, can you imagine what THEIR takeout is going to be! The liberals continue to sell out the hard-working people of Ontario by selling off assets (i.e. the 407) just in order to make quick get-rich fast scheme so they can eliminate the deficit. You are hurting every day people in the horseracing industry who work hard, and invest their time, money and passion in their businesses. You also mention in your letter The horse racing industry has been claiming that 60,000 direct and indirect jobs will be lost without slots revenue. Minister Duncan has also publicly scoffed at the idea of 60,000 jobs being reliant on the horse racing industry. This despite his own ministrys use of that figure in earlier reports, and a confirmation of that number corroborating independent studies conducted by reputable firms. The 5900 employees that you quote in your letter to the editor, are the number of people working directly for racetracks and completely ignores the workforce that is involved in the breeding, raising, training and racing of horses According to Dr. Bob Wright, former Equine Extension specialist with OMFRA, there are at least 3 horses at the farm for every one that races. Did you read a copy of his presentation to the concerned citizens of the Wellington County equine community meeting held May 29th, 2012? In his 2008 report to the Liberal government Sadinsky listed the number of individuals employed on a full time or part time basis to be 48,750. In 2010 in the Economics of Horse racing (Vel Evans Strategic Equine) reported 55,000 with about 42,696 employed in the agricultural sector and away from racetracks. We would ask Minister Duncan what level of job loss in the agricultural economy of Ontario, he finds acceptable. Its an absolute certainty there will be major displacement and job loss resulting from this decision. In fact, does the Government fully understand the actual impact of a quick end to the Slot Program? The Drummond Report called for a review of slots at racetracks program to assure value and that it continue to be the most profitable model in the OLG portfolio. It did NOT recommend scrapping the program and jeopardizing the economic viability of an industry responsible for some 60,000 jobs, and the engine for $2 Billion in economic stimulus annually of which there is contribution to the tax base of some $281 million. You are putting honest, hardworking Ontarians out of work! You seem to intimate that some how the horse racing is to blame (even partially) for the current state of Ontarios financial matters because, as you stated with horse racetracks getting a guaranteed fixed percentage of slot revenue profits, the slots financial profitability was compromised when the economy went into recession and this is why strong action had to be taken. What kind of strong action has been taken against the misappropriation and misspending of ACTUAL taxpayer dollars in recent years i.e. the e-Health and ORNGE helicopter debacles, just to name two of them; there are probably many more that I can cite. Why dont you look at how actual money is being spent within some of your portfolios! Have you read the Auditor Generals report for 2011? My last point is in the form a very simply question which I have not been able get answers for. Why, when the Liberal government is raking in over $1.1 billion (2011) from their %75 take of the Slots at Racetracks (a win-win situation for both horseracing and the government) are they willing to give away %47 of video lottery terminal revenue to the owners of bingo halls? Patrick J. Meyers DVM, MSc., Dipl. ACT Meyers Equine Veterinary Services Rockwood, Ontario

Patrick Meyers