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Auditor General To Review OLG Modernization, OHRIA Responds

Published: April 10, 2013 10:48 am ET

Last Comment: April 16, 2013 11:04 am ET | 52 Comment(s) | Jump to Comments

It was announced on Wednesday that Ontario's Auditor General will review the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp.'s gaming modernization plans.

Nepean-Carleton MPP Lisa MacLeod sent out a tweet on Twitter this morning (Wednesday, April 10) which read, 'After 8 months of trying I am so proud that the Auditor General will review the OLG's expansion plans, its impact on horseracing & casinos.'

Reports indicate that Ontario Auditor General Jim McCarter has been directed by a legislative committee to investigate the OLG modernization, and that the probe could possibly start as early as this week, even though that would mean the Auditor General's office would have to delay probes that it is currently undertaking.

“OLG will support the Auditor General’s review in every way we can and we look forward to working with his office,” said Rod Phillips, president and Chief Executive Officer of the OLG.

The Ontario PC Party motion tabled at the end of March, which calls for the Auditor General to look into whether the government acted properly in cancelling the Slots-at-Racetracks program, will be debated April 10.

The motion also asks that the investigation include whether the government fully considered the economic impact on rural Ontario communities.

“It’s a very clear and direct motion that will finally give us the answers we’ve been seeking about the OLG modernization ever since it was announced,” said MPP Steve Clark (Leeds-Grenville) in a release. "I’m certainly hoping the Liberals and NDP support it.”

Unlike the NDP motion passed in the Legislature on March 28 with PC support, Clark noted the PC committee motion is binding.

“The government won’t be able to ignore this one, as I fear will happen with the NDP’s,” he said.

Among the areas the motion asks the Auditor General to investigate are:

  • Whether a clear, consistent, fair and transparent process was used for proposed gaming sites;

  • If host-city-payment agreements are equal across the board and that no municipalities were offered a special deal;

  • Whether mental health and addictions concerns in new host communities were given adequate consideration; and

  • If OLG and the government have done enough consultation to ensure new gaming facilities are actually welcome in potential host communities.


OHRIA: Horse Racing Industry Calls on Wynne to Respect Legislature and Pause OLG Modernization


The Ontario Horse Racing Industry Association (OHRIA) is calling on Premier Kathleen Wynne to pause the OLG’s modernization process until after the Auditor General releases his report on the decisions surrounding the OLG modernization plan.

Today, the Standing Committee on Public Accounts voted to ask the Auditor General to investigate the OLG’s process in determining the Modernization Plan. The Auditor General has confirmed that an investigation will commence in short order.

“We have had serious concerns with the OLG’s modernization process from the start. The Public Accounts committee’s motion raises significant questions about the Government and OLG’s gaming modernization strategy and called on the Auditor General to investigate. This is a very serious development and one that the Premier must respect,” said Sue Leslie, president of the Ontario Horse Racing Industry Association.

“The OLG’s modernization process has ravaged our industry. Thousands of people have lost their jobs as a result of this rush to dramatically change gaming in Ontario. We formally ask Premier Wynne to respect that a majority of the legislature has twice in less than a month voted to demonstrate their opposition to the current approach the OLG and government are taking. We urge the Premier to pause OLG Modernization until the Auditor General’s report is public,” Leslie added.

The motion, as adopted, calls on the Auditor General to investigate all aspects of the OLG’s modernization strategy, including the process for tendering, contracting, and planning for all new or proposed casinos; host-city-payment formulas; revenue projections and economic impact assessments; community impacts on mental health and/or addiction matters; effects on the Slots At Racetracks Program; and consultations to determine whether or not casinos are welcome in proposed communities.

April 16, 2013 - 11:04 amMr Lewis, it has been my

Will Yamakva SAID...

Mr Lewis, it has been my pleasure conversing with you and others. I am a HUGE fan of the sport. Heck. I remember when Jamie Martin worked at LON (reference to my age as he is in another article), and love the races. I do prefer the runners, but do not live near them and will go to harness locally instead. You all have been taking my money for years, and I do not have regret giving it. I really hope the entire game looks at the sport from top to bottom and sees what the fans, and the government sees. The current model is broken.

A better, more modern model is needed. All factions need to realize this, stop blaming each other, and work together for a unified pitch to show the gov you need slots, but will not be depending on them any where close to what you are now.

Every horseman should go to the races, and talk to a fan. Ask them "what is the one thing this sport needs to bring more fans". Forget asking the track to do this, forget letting this association or that one do something....

I love harness, but it needs to save itself. Please bring this sport back to what it was. ALL PARTIES INVOLVED

April 15, 2013 - 11:56 pmWill,you are right about the

dave lewis SAID...

Will,you are right about the game not changing over the years but what did change was very crucial to the horsemen.They closed the backstretch of almost all the tracks,no more stabling so now you have to ship an hour or two to race and that means buy a decent truck and trailer,not cheap,gas again not cheap so you have a couple of hundred bucks invested and thats even before you get to race.Heaven forbid you don't finish in the first five because now you just lost money and it sure makes it a long ride home.It used to be alot cheaper stabling at the track.And i know we have to try and get the fans back in the stands as you have said.I honestly thank you for being a fan of harness racing and next time i will look up and notice you in the stands.

April 15, 2013 - 10:44 amMr Rigg... in short, if you

Will Yamakva SAID...

Mr Rigg... in short,

if you as horseman went to the authority with my suggestions, you have a better chance at 3 things you do not have now.

1) Large turnouts nightly.
2) Larger handle, which you currently race for a portion of in your purses
3) A better case to bring to the government.

It serves you better to go to them, than me. I can bet elsewhere. You cant race elsewhere. John Q public is who you should be targeting in the long run, not the politicians.

April 14, 2013 - 11:54 pmMr. Yamakva, a respectful

Mr. Yamakva, a respectful thank you for your comments and suggestions - removed from the emotion of this difficult time allows one to make an objective assessment.
We are close to decade away from a self-sustaining model. 4 or 5 years of lobbying in Federal politics for changes to legalized gambling laws and another 4 or 5 to build our new product and create a sizeable customer base. The only obvious question being; Will there be anything left by the time we get straightened away?

regards,

April 14, 2013 - 1:22 pmMr. Yamakya, your answer to

jim rigg SAID...

Mr. Yamakya, your answer to my question is with all due respect, tells me that you do not have any real evidence to back up your claim only your opinion that we should have seen this coming! Your reference to handle related to purses at the smaller tracks, it is my opinion that the people attending dont care what the handle is or what the purses are; they are there to gamble on a horse race period. We have very strict rules regarding the way in which we must race our horses that are set by a Gov't. agency to protect the integrity of this Industry and the betting public. The SARP agreement was indeed beneficial to the Horse Industry of course; but it has also been lucrative to Municipalities, Race Tracks and of course to the Gov't. The way the Tracks, Municipalities and the Gov't chose to spend their share was of their own choosing. Is it any wonder that I am angry with their decision to operate continually in the red and to discard a revenue source while spending another Billion on 5 people because their ratings were low in the election polls! This Gov't has hired various people to give them reports at considerable costs and only chose certain parts to suit their agenda. Getting back to the Gov't agency that governs horse racing and the reason for me being a horse owner is the HIP administered by the ORC and according to the Standardbred Improvement Program booklet that is sent to us by the ORC and on page 2 under the heading of Goals and Objectives of the Horse Improvement Program, their statements is the main reason I made my decision to enter into the breeding of my mare. Although your comments have generated a huge response from us, I believe it would be more helpful to us if you would direct your ideas or answers to those in authority that can constructively provide a solution to prevent the destruction of a once vibrant Industry.

April 13, 2013 - 8:39 pmWill I would like to know

John Hill SAID...

Will I would like to know your thoughts as to the tracks fullfilling their obligations to the SARP agreement. Also backstretch tours are out because they have been closed.

April 13, 2013 - 6:04 pmWill, thank you for taking

Will, thank you for taking the time and patience to make your points. Your posts in the past did not reflect your obvious passion for the industry and empathy you have for those suffering under the current circumstances. I too, am glad to see an open conversation taking place here, even though it may not be directly on the topic of the accompanying story. I certainly do not have the answers to where the industry goes from here, and am very open to any and all suggestions. As horse men and women we must realize and embrace our responsibility to work towards success under the new rules. I too am angry that the industry is being so badly damaged by a government that could have handled things so much better. I think most of us can agree changes needed to be made but surely it could have been done without inflicting what may be irreparable damage to a world class industry. I believe the government is guilty of several crimes involving their "modernization" of the OLG, and I guess we'll see if anything comes of the investigation by the AG. In the meantime, it is very difficult for people losing their livelihoods and horses to see any positive future right now, but we do need to take whatever steps necessary to bring fans back to the racetracks.

April 13, 2013 - 4:33 pmMr Lewis, the suggestion can

Will Yamakva SAID...

Mr Lewis, the suggestion can be tinkered with and is not an absolute example.

If you feel that you as horseman do not need to contribute to the advertising of your own sport, then that there, might be a problem. You are the stars of the game. You own and train the stars of the game. Not the track. You know what sports make the most money? The ones that feature the players of the game, and the ones where we can identify the stars. That is part of the game, like it or not.

Like I said before, I am a 30 year fan, and if Trevor Henry, or Ross Battin, or John MacDonald walked up to me at the track, I would have no clue who they are.

Wanna know why Zenyatta and other runners drew national acclaim and had millions of fans? It was not because the track made them.

April 13, 2013 - 1:51 amWill,your suggestion about

dave lewis SAID...

Will,your suggestion about holding bar-b-ques is a good one and has been tried before.I worked for a prominent stable in the 90's that held them all the time and figured out that people will show up and watch the horses go, eat all the hotdogs and hamburgers they want and still not go to watch the races.It and i say it again is not the horsemans fault over the takeout which we know is way to high and its not the fault of the horsemen that the track owners let their facilities run down or not have promotions.We are there to race horses and should not have to worry about running the advertising and day to day operations.And what you said to me about the stars of the game leaving way to early,i couldn't agree with you more but money talks.I also would like to see them race at 4 or 5.Ohio has sires stakes for aged horses and maybe we should do the same and keep some of the stars on the track.

April 12, 2013 - 3:37 pmI am really glad that SC is

Will Yamakva SAID...

I am really glad that SC is allowing good constructive conversation about this, because it sucks watching you all go thru what you are. Thing is, what has not been done for the past 14 years, that chased fans away and has made few new fans, needs to start now.

with or without slots.

i love horse racing, but hacking at the government, is not going to be the solution.

April 12, 2013 - 3:34 pmMr Rigg, with all due

Will Yamakva SAID...

Mr Rigg, with all due respect, if you were "blindsided" that was because you assumed the slots deal was forever in place. Remember when this deal was made TO SAVE HARNESS racing by bringing in the slots? There was a 10 year deal in place. Why you assume it would automatically be re-upped, is on you. Anyone looking at this...... say from a wagering or fan perspective, knew this was not working for anyone but the horseman.

Since the slots, less people show up. You race more days. Handles are at embarrassing lows. While people are claiming poor or unable to make ends meet in this game, you have guys racing for $100,000. Some one is getting rich in this industry. In fact, one of the previously mentioned friends, that has horses at WFR, was able to quit his job, and live off the $100k the horse made, despite only having 4 wins. While not everyone gets that kinda luck, try showing that to someone that does not care about horse racing. Then explain where the money came from. You had to see this day coming. If you are not a gambler, then you might not have seen this.

If you look at the comments here, and people wanting to return things to what they were, how would it look say if Kawartha or Sarnia gave away over $50k in purses, but only taking in $10k in bets. Would you not think something is SERIOUSLY wrong with this business?

Horseman were treated to the slots, where as Quebec, the bars and restaurants got what you have. That very well could have been you. Now, they have less dates, and less races, but the one they have now, is a busy grandstand with lots of fans, and the ratio purses:handle is much more manageable.

You surely did not think the government was going to be cool with the decreasing handle on the races did you? You had to know something was going to be done. If you did not know this, or pay attention to this, then I guess you were blindsided.

I ask one simple question, that never seems to get published, show me another sport, where the participants get paid, from money raised by a totally different game

April 12, 2013 - 3:23 pmMr Reid, by all means be

Will Yamakva SAID...

Mr Reid, by all means be defensive, if you read the comments by others, you might wanna realize, they might have a point. People with no interest in horse racing, find it hard to believe that you get portion (one that allows horses to make a few hundred K a year) and no one else.

Your comments are reflective of the industry sadly, you just dont care about the patrons. It is not me soley that finds the time between races a problem. Look at your empty grandstands, I think quite a few people have left the game, and gamble elsewhere.

Your example, if I went to a hockey game, and the time between periods was too long, and the rules were not fan friendly.....

Well, the NHL did change the rules. Faceoffs are much faster now. Intermissions now have 2 zambonis to clear the ice faster, rules that slow the game down, like putting the puck over the glass just to get a whistle and slow the game, has been changed. The NHL game that starts at 7 that used to end just after 10, is now done by 9:20 roughly. They listened to the fans. They saw the empty seats and adjusted the rules. Not just the league, but the players. No rule changes, are done with out the okay for them.

If you read what I put, I am not solely blaming the horseman, you need to stop making things up, and giving me credit for saying them.

When you give your suggestions, do not give me things from the perspective of the horseman, do it from the fans. We are the ones that will be paying your purses.

April 12, 2013 - 3:16 pmThank you Mr Gilders for the

Will Yamakva SAID...

Thank you Mr Gilders for the reply.

I agree, the changes may come, but at the current point, you can see that the horseman that have replied to me, choose to ignore me or argue with the people they need most, The fans. Instead of listening to the complaints, they want to tell us we are wrong, and this and that. Simply looking into the stands and looking at the decreasing handle, I am totally confused, how we can be ignored.

You are correct that it is unlikely that the AG will find what the OLG did was wrong. I might have hurt people but they are welcome to act how they want when the agreement with Slots was over. Horseman appear to think that because they started this deal, it would last for life. Comments like Mr. Reid's reflect that thought. It is sad, but at this point, the only real thing to do, is figure out how to move on. Judging by many of the comments here, that is not going to happen or isn't able to happen without slots money. That to me, is people advocating a poor business stay open because it works out for them.

Anyone with any kinda business sense, has to see if the handle is less than the money given out, it is not working. PLAIN AND SIMPLE. There is no horseman that can deem this a good business practice or good common sense. Yes, the horseman are still making a living and the jobs are still flowing, but having to take from one, to pay the other, is not good business sense.

The government saved the horse racing industry with slots, and the horsemen seem to forget that. I remember before slots, the biggest weekly purse at WFR, was one lone race for $6k. Now, it is 5 figures. The handle really has not gone up that much and non-simulcasting nights have brutal numbers, but still give away a fortune.

It has to be much better balanced.

April 12, 2013 - 11:11 amMr.Yamakva your thoughts and

Mr.Yamakva your thoughts and suggestions as a long time customer are appreciated by many who have gone to great lengths inside the industry to make changes. My guess is people in the game and especially those who are hands on owners,breeders, trainers and drivers may be more upset because the government's agenda is basically to downsize the industry to such a point where there might be one or two full time tracks period. The changes you have suggested need to be implemented into a vibrant industry and so far at least that doesn't appear to be on the horizon.
Back to the AG investigating this well the chances of any findings that will satisfy anyone are less than even money. More language about the process could have been more open and transparent and lacked enough consultation.
Nothing in my opinion will be found for those of you hoping for conspiracy or possible criminal charges. The AG will say the OLG was within it's mandate to seek out new revenue streams for the benefit of the province, that's their story and their sticking to it.

April 12, 2013 - 10:37 amMr. Yamakya; I am glad that

jim rigg SAID...

Mr. Yamakya; I am glad that you are a Fan of horse racing as you have stated many times before; however, regarding my statement of the gov't "Blindsiding this Industry" and you replied that "This could not be further from the truth". Would you kindly explain what evidence you based this Statement on? As far as my anger with the Gov't. It goes much deeper than their decision to cancel the SARP. Perhaps one day changes can be made to our system that can stop a Premier of a Province from bringing a halt to the business of governing and making changes to the wording in Acts behind closed doors to further their agendas, to name a couple.

April 12, 2013 - 9:50 am@Will. You are d__m right

Derek Reid SAID...

@Will. You are d__m right i'm defensive. For a year now I've had corrupt politicians and incompetent gov't officials tell me that i'm the problem. I've had to read countless comments on newspaper websites from people blaming me because i'm stealing money that should be going to their health care. Now I have to go on to this website and listen to a so called 'fan' of this sport constantly bash its participants and again say that we are the sole problem. I am sick of it. You complain about '20 minutes' between races and that is a problem for you. Well Will, these are not machines we are racing out there. They are flesh and blood animals that require time to properly warm up. They are not cars you simply put in to gear and pull out of the driveway. You ask why I am dismissing you? Lets put it this way, if you went to a hockey game, and thought the time between periods was too long, the rules of the game were not 'fan friendly' enough, there wasn't a team website, there weren't in game interviews, etc., in your mind, would these would all be the fault of the players on the ice? Would you not blame the team owners for the in arena experience, or the league for the game rules, or the coaching/mgmt. staff? Then why do you continuously blame the horsemen? You want some of my suggestions for improvement, when I come back from the barn this afternoon I will give you some of my suggestions.

April 12, 2013 - 9:45 amMs Moore, I have been to

Will Yamakva SAID...

Ms Moore, I have been to those tracks. There is not one that I have not been to. However, I do not enjoy these specialty days such as industry day and others, and prefer just a regular old card, and those days, the stands have people, and they are enthusiastic, but the numbers are not large enough to justify the purses given.

You are on the right track with the people being "welcome" to your barn to meet the stars, but that would be if they knew who you were, or if they happen to know friends of yours. How about a day where you host a group of say..... 10. A nice lil BBQ, or something like that? You might not be able to as a small trainer, but these mega operations, they could easily set these things up. Annual fun days at the farm. Arrange so a name driver makes an appearance. Cap the evening off with a night cheering on one of the horses the kids met that day, at the race track. Just a thought, but how could that not get some families, totally into the game?

But that is just ONE thing that could be done, and figuring the details is something that could be tinkered with, but that is just an idea. Back stretch tours are cool, but let's go one step further.

April 11, 2013 - 9:45 pmWill, if I may be so bold as

Ruth Moore SAID...

Will, if I may be so bold as to use your first name. Where do you suggest you ask questions such as why is my fav horse not racing or what do you look like without that helmet on? Might I suggest that you try facebook. I am small-time trainer( which incidentally is about the same as a fan). I have never been refused when asked to "add friend" or asked a question of any driver, trainer or owner that has an account. We in the industry always try to accommodate anyone that is interested in hearing about this industry we all hold so dear! Clearly you have never been at Grand River or Hanover on a race night to see the enthusiastic fan base! Give the word and you are welcome to come out to any number of farms or training centers and see why we horse people do with all our spare time. Wear boots, I am sure there are lots of forks with your name on them!!!

April 11, 2013 - 6:39 pmMr Reid, do you not see the

Will Yamakva SAID...

Mr Reid,

do you not see the problem with dismissing what I am saying to you? I am a HUGE fan, and you are acting as though I am against you, because I do not agree with you. It is people like me, you need back to the game, and you have not offered a single solution to help, but instead tell me what wont work.

April 11, 2013 - 6:00 pmMr Brunet... The big M is in

Will Yamakva SAID...

Mr Brunet...

The big M is in the infancy stage of its attempts. If you are judging it based on a years worth of work, then you are missing the big picture. He is bridging the gap.

You make a great point, "Will, this conversation been ongoing for many years in the backstretch of every track in Ontario."

That is the problem, it has remained in the backstretch. The same groups you all want to lobby the government to return the slots money to you, should and could have been lobbying the tracks. The unity that you have in the horseman wanting slots back, could have banded together and say the stuff that I am saying now..... but to the track.

I 100% agree with you that the money should be tied to the purses. There is NO way places like Sarnia, Kawartha, Sudbury, Woodstock and a host of others, should EVER be allowed to continue with the formula that sees purses exceed handle 9/10 race days. That is ridiculous business.

Agreed, I am not a fan of the current idea that rewards the track owners, but the thing is..... they dont own the horses, you do. Thus YOU need to figure it out, and figure out a way to work with the tracks. At this point, it has been LOTS of finger pointing. Most of the 5 suggestions that I gave, do not cost the track a cent.

Bottom line is this.... 1/3 cards, the purses given away exceeds the money taken on wagers, and after the horseman's cut of that money... the slots are REALLY needed to make the purses. Another 1/3 of the cards, the handle is barely 25% higher than money given away in purses, and after the horseman's cut comes out, the slots are sorta needed. 1/3 of the cards are a decent business model of where the game is sustainable.

What does that tell you?

April 11, 2013 - 5:49 pmMr Reid, you need to listen

Will Yamakva SAID...

Mr Reid, you need to listen to what I am saying, instead of speaking on my behalf. I, in no way have a vendetta. Again, I am high school friends with quite a few owners, and two high school friends currently train and drive at WFR. So please, enough with this.

You are so defensive, that you are oblivious to why people stopped coming. I get that shoes need to be repaired. I get that equipment is loose. I never said anything about those delays. Each night, at least 20 minutes (if you add up all the time of all the races) from the lights go on, till the time the car actually moves, is wasted. One or two drivers is lagging just that lil bit behind, or super slow to get to the gate.

As for point 5, you seemed to AGAIN, miss the point. You are talking about Bet night live, which is great. Nice show, but did it bring anyone to the game? Nope. Did WDB seen an increase in ontrack attendance as a result of these interviews? Again nope.

You also pointed out Confed cup, and Industry day, and a few others. Great... how about the other 243243423 race cards that are not them days? Woodbine in house shows...... umm how will that attract a new patron that has never seen the game?

Fan friendly condition sheet? How about purse incentives for people that race consecutive starts at the same track? Nothing more frustrating for a fan, when they cant see the horse on consecutive starts.

Mr Reid, it appears you are only open to one suggestion, and that is yours.

April 11, 2013 - 5:41 pm@Will, and one more thing,

Derek Reid SAID...

@Will, and one more thing, you bring up the horsemen being against a percentage of purses going to marketing. You misrepresent the reason this was voted against. The reason was that there was no concrete plan brought forward to vote on, just vague ideas of stuff that might be done in the future. I would also like you to give me an example of another industry where the entities that own the industry have absolutely no incentive to sell their product and instead tell the employees of the industry that they must incur all of the costs of marketing and promotion. It is frankly an insult to ask that the horsemen bear 100% of these costs without the tracks or the olg contributing anything.

April 11, 2013 - 5:23 pm@Will... Your comments just

Derek Reid SAID...

@Will... Your comments just prove my point that you just have some kind of vendetta against horsemen and are willfully blind to how little influence they have on the experience you have at the racetrack. You complain that the drivers 'just whiz by' in the post parade, then complain that it takes to long for the race to go off because our horses aren't ready 'at the bell'. Well I'm sorry if a shoe comes off or a piece of equipment comes loose at the last minute, I guess we'll just ignore it from now on to make sure the race goes off on time for you. But hey, the ensuing accident will liven up the festivities for the 'attention span of the average sports get bored'. Your third and fourth points proved my own point, that none of the horsemen's efforts to attract more people will fly without being in 'cahoots' with the racetracks, the same racetracks that have absolutely zero incentive (thanks to the gov't and olg) to do any cahooting when they are getting guaranteed millions for leasing space for slots. As to point #5, I don't ever recall a single driver refusing to speak on bet night live, or on woodbine's in house shows. I see driver tweets constantly across the screen on flamboro's broadcast. Interviews and guest appearances are everywhere on NA Cup night, breeders crowns, industry day, confed cup day. Most of them are already on facebook and twitter, if you are not following them is that their problem? I would also like to know what your idea of a 'fan friendly' condition sheet is, and what universe you live in where the horsemen have a 'great' say in how it is written. Please, give me some examples of what a 'fan friendly' race would be.

April 11, 2013 - 7:30 pmWill, Don't get me wrong and

Norm Brunet SAID...

Will,
Don't get me wrong and I agree with you. I was just pointing out a fact that the current model at the Big M is not sustainable and Mr Gural, whom I think is a genius and owns 2 other tracks with slots, Tioga and Vernon, is banking on getting slots or that model will fail. I would think that another 3 years is the end game.
This industry consists of many castles but NO KINGDOM. Every track owner is dictating to Horseman when and where they will race regardless of competing against 2 or 3 other Ontario tracks. They are more concerned about having entertainment in the club house restaurant that is b.t.w. subsidized by the OLG then changing post times in order to NOT COMPETE and have better handle.
This new plan to sign up every track regardless of handle is not really going to work is it ? Rather then having 6 or 7 strong tracks that can build up handle, they are putting us right back where we started but with half the days and 60% of the purses that will guarantee that NO ONE can survive. Now that, Will, is a government decision that effects me but that I have very little control over.
But what incentives do our handlers and decision makers have ? They ( Track owners )are all armed with new contracts that give them the same amount of money post SARP. The system is flawed in the sense that it rewards track owners for doing nothing, which by design helps the OLG steal clients away from horse racing. If the gov was smart and truly wanted to help the industry they would tie incentives to the handle and NOT to the slots. Will, this conversation been ongoing for many years in the backstretch of every track in Ontario. Moving forward the only answer to the horseman's plight is if they also owned the tracks themselves and that way they could control their own destiny, unfortunately we are all too poor to do so.

April 11, 2013 - 3:54 pmThe saddest thing, is instead

Will Yamakva SAID...

The saddest thing, is instead of trying to salvage the ship and get the public behind you and fill the stands, you have spent a year complaining about the government.

As a racing fan. I sit in the empty stands alone, and ask, "do you guys even notice me"

April 11, 2013 - 3:49 pmMr Brunet... they are

Will Yamakva SAID...

Mr Brunet... they are starting all over again, with a new life and new vision. The gap they have, is better than the gap you are going thru. You have tracks like Kawartha, having purses that exceed the handle. So I am going to suggest they are doing FAR better than what is going on here.

Mr Gural is the one that is rebuilding the game, and is trying. He is not idling, begging for slots. While he petitions the government, he is improving the game. That simply is not going on anywhere but WFR and WDB.
--

Mr Hill, I am not pointing the finger at you soley, but was it not the horseman that struck down a percentage of purse going to advertising the game? You needed the people more than the track did, and now look. You REALLY need the people. The fact people can "bet from anywhere", means you are missing the point. It isnt about where people can bet. It is about how to make new fans and get people excited about harness again. WHen was the last time you went to an OTB and saw a group of ladies sitting, chatting it up and pumping money thru? You do not. The televised experience is boring. The on-track, the interactive thing, is where the fans will come from. Not net betting.

Take a look at the problem...

Here we are one person saying "we do not control this, and we do not control that at the track", then we have another saying "hosting slots at our track".

April 11, 2013 - 3:41 pmMr Reid... look at your

Will Yamakva SAID...

Mr Reid...

look at your fellow posters that are seeing the light. These are your peers and even THEY agree, you should have been listening.

" I would like you to explain how in your 'mind' horsemen are the reason that there are not more "butts in the grandstand"

If you would like to make up things that I have not said, feel free. Horseman are a part of the problem. They are the ones however that lose the most out of this problem. Not the track, not the city, not the government, but you the horseman.

5 Quick things that horseman can do?

1) Have drivers make more public appearances with the animals we cheer on, in post parade. Kids LOVE your animals, but they are flashes that wizz by during warm up

2) Have your horses ready and to the gate the second the bell is called. So many delays for what ever reason, is something that fans are tired of. The constant delays make the attention span of the average sports get bored

3) Promote your horses better. These large farms should be in cahoots with the tracks arranging tours, having a site or facebook page with constant news about the horses that we are fans of. I hate having no clue why a horse I like, is gone for 3 weeks. Is it that hard to post update on a page for the horse? We know why our favorite hockey player is out, why not our horses?

4) Since many of these large farms are making cash, (look at the top 30 owners and you cant not argue they are not making good money), they should be hosting events at the tracks. Sponsoring and hosting. The more money the attendees spend on the races, that money comes back in the purses they are already winning.

5) The drivers need to be the face of the game. I am a fan of racing for 30 years, and have bet a billion races, but if Trevor Henry or John MacDonald or Luc Oulette walked up to me, I would have no clue who they are, unless they hand their colors on.

Look how many rich people that own companies have horses, why are the drivers not the face of these people's products. It only benefits them.

I could go on, but there is not enough space.

Also, horseman can have a GREAT say in the condition sheets. You have a better chance at getting more fan friendly condition sheets than you do getting slots back.

April 11, 2013 - 3:30 pmMr Lewis, I am far from

Will Yamakva SAID...

Mr Lewis, I am far from offended, and the names I have been called and the personal attacks on me, do not affect me, as I get the times are tough and emotions are high, but like you were saying, the gamblers are getting the shaft in terms of take outs, but look, you have a better chance pressuring the track to do that, to lure bettors back, than you do here.

The horseman do play a HUGE role in this as well. Fans like to watch their favorite horses, do you know any owner, that has a very well set up website that promotes the horses they own that fans can cheer for? If your favorite horse is retired at three because of the breeding money, how do you expect fans to cheer for it? Somebeach is a prime example. The breeding shed value, does nothing to keep fans in the game. I get that it is a money thing, but look at the over all cost.
--

Ms Aspden

How come you say you share..... when others are blaming the tracks, it is the track that shares it, and you benefit from this. Fine, lets say they remove the machines, then what? You still have no fans right now, so you are not going to be in any better position. If the machines are gone or you get no revenue, what you are missing is that increased fans, means more money from you, with or without slots, so you argument sorta counters itself.

April 11, 2013 - 2:26 pmif the horsemen wanted to

if the horsemen wanted to lower the take out to 10% on all bet,s the cpma, orc, track owners would say no??? why has the olg not gone to the tracks and inforsed the agreement to promote and maintain. no 20 cent tri.20 cent pick 4's. let's reduce the take on the slots to 3% to increase our fan base. they would tell the horsemen thats not your job. go train and race horse's.

April 11, 2013 - 2:21 pmWill, just so you know the

Norm Brunet SAID...

Will,
just so you know the current purse account at the Meadowlands is minus $300,000. which means that they have paid more then 300K in purses then they have collected in revenue. Mr Gural would be the first to tell you that racing in New Jersey is NOT sustainable without slots. Deep pockets are subsidizing racing in New Jersey.
So please don't give the Big M as an example of success in this industry, because it's not.

April 11, 2013 - 1:11 pmWill ,if i can use your first

dave lewis SAID...

Will ,if i can use your first name,i remember back in the 60's and 70's and even 80's when the stands were packed it was because racing was the only game in town now you have all this competetion for the gambling dollar.I know the racing fans are getting the shaft in the form of takeouts and i get that,but it's not the fault of the horsemen,you say the product is not good but they've bred the best horses in the world and that isn't bad.I wish i could talk to you face to face instead of on a screen but health problems make that unlikely.I do get to the races occasionly but not as much as i would like.If i have offended you i appoligize.I do know where you're coming from.

April 11, 2013 - 1:09 pmI have been a standardbred

I have been a standardbred owner,groom,trainer,fan and breeder for 45 years and would have had a very healthy retirement if I had invested the money I have spent on horses into RRSP.
I have went to rallies, preached to non-horse people, copied Bob Burgess's letter to people that I thought could help, etc.
I get a disgusted, even a hated feeling every time I see a picture of Mr. Godfrey, Duncan and Snobelen.
But the one thing I know for sure is that other than a handful of comments NONE are as important as those made by the likes of Will Yamkva and Wayne Robinski.
If we had used their thinking 10 years we would not have been in this bad of a mess

April 11, 2013 - 1:01 pmWill, you continualy point

John Hill SAID...

Will, you continualy point your finger at the horsemen for the lack of butts in the seats. As horsemen our responsabilities in the SARP agreement was to put on the races for our 10%. The track owners were to use their 10% to promote and grow the industry and its infrastucure. Our product modernization is controlled by the government (the competion,OLG) so that is not up to the horsemen either. I race horses and leave the business end of the industry to the professionals. So in my opinion you are barking up the wrong tree. As a fan do you have any sugestions to put more butts in the stands ? Also in this day and age those butts can bet from almost anywhere.

April 11, 2013 - 12:59 pmWith this announcement, you

With this announcement, you can bet that there will be a lot of shredding going on at the OLG. Looks good on them!

April 11, 2013 - 12:28 pm@will yamakava. Again with

Derek Reid SAID...

@will yamakava. Again with your non-sensical rants against horsemen, as if we are the sole reason there are not "butts in the grandstand." I guess in your 'mind' horsemen are also the reason there's war in the middle east and kids are starving in Africa. I would like you to explain how in your 'mind' horsemen are the reason that there are not more "butts in the grandstand". Horsemen are not in charge of the CPMA. Horsemen are not in charge of the ORC. Horsemen do not own or operate the racetracks. Horsemen are not in charge of the OLG. Horsemen are not in control of the provincial government. Horsemen do not cook the meals or write the menus in the grandstand. Horsemen do not write the condition sheets. You seem to have this delusion that somehow horsemen don't want people to come out to watch and bet on races. I have a homework assignment for you Will, the next time you post a comment on this website, you state 5 changes you would make to racing to bring more "butts in the grandstand". Then, I want you to explain in detail how in your 'mind' it is not the CPMA, or the ORC, or the gov't, or the OLG, or the racetrack owners that are preventing those ideas from coming to fruition, but how it is that you think that horsemen are the ones that are preventing them from happening.

April 11, 2013 - 11:20 amMr Lewis, with respect, what

Will Yamakva SAID...

Mr Lewis, with respect, what derogatory remarks did I make?

I have spoke respectfully to you, and it is you and the likes that turn this into a "support us or get lost" situation. How is that going to help the game? How is this going to return people to the stands?

Comments like this, are why people are turning on the game. There was an amazing article about female fans of the sport. Did you read it? Have you read the comments? If you did, how can you speak to a fan or someone that wants to see a grandstand cheering for YOUR horses, in the manner you have?

My livelihood might not be affected in the same way yours is, but I am a 30 year racing fan, and you might want to listen to what the fans say.

April 11, 2013 - 11:20 amMr Yamakva, you talk of an

Tammy Aspden SAID...

Mr Yamakva, you talk of an area such as New Jersey as an area that horse racing survives without slots and you are correct. However you have forgotten something. Those racetracks are NOT hosting slot machines as the racetracks in Ontario are expected to do. The OLG has demanded that we share our house with them, with nothing being shared with us. That is NOT the case in New Jersey. I wonder how would the racetracks and the horseman in New Jersey feel or react to, if their Government walked in tomorrow and said " We are installing slot machines in all of your racetracks and we will pay only a rental fee we feel is fair and the horse racing industry will receive NOTHING in return." I would be willing to bet that they would be just as upset as we are.

So if you are suggesting to us we need to to follow New Jerseys model then you must also be suggesting that ALL of the slot machines should be removed from our race tracks. I am sure that was omitted from your post by error.

Tammy Aspden

April 11, 2013 - 9:43 amMr Rigg, You can suggest that

Will Yamakva SAID...

Mr Rigg, You can suggest that my comments would be quite different, but really, if you get past your anger for the government, and look around you, are you not in a different position than Meadowlands, and those people never had the luxury you have for 14 years. You make comments like, " The people in this Industry have been blindsided"

This could not be further from the truth. Many areas without slots are surviving. Quebec is starting from scratch, and NJ races without slot money, so the industry can survive without this. Also, with no clue how this affects me, or what I do for a living, you might wanna stop with the assumptions. You have ignored race fans for 14 years, and the handles and empty grandstand prove this. You might want to start listening instead of being rude to us. No fans post here, any clue why? We are ignored by the horseman. That is why many went to slots

The horseman ASSUMED this deal would continue, but that is not the case. It sucks, and I get that. You do realize as a fan, I love watching the racing. I have met loads of people in the industry. That does not change some real facts. You race for empty stands. Even if the slots money is returned to you, will that put people in the stands? No. I am not being sarcastic by my comments.

If you REALLY think about it, my encouraging you to put butts in the stands, would help you with our without the return of slots. Think about it, if you had packed stands for the past 14 years, the handles would have been MUCH higher, as your chunk of the handle would have made purses real hefty.

My heart goes out to you, but you cant possibly expect the whole world to agree with you, especially us the race fans, which have been treated to a product that has not changed or modernized for us, in 14 years.

April 11, 2013 - 1:57 amI agree with Mr.Copley that

dave lewis SAID...

I agree with Mr.Copley that Mr Yamaka keep quite,as i said before his livelyhood isn't at stake.If it were he wouldn't make all those derogatory remarks about the horse business.

April 10, 2013 - 7:31 pmI have to agree with Will

Michael Glew SAID...

I have to agree with Will here...

We can lament the loss of SARP and vilify the Liberals all we want (albeit justifiably), but the slots train has left the station and isn't coming back. No provincial government, no matter what party, is going to restore what existed pre-April 2012.

The only way we are going to survive is to put butts in the bleachers and get people to wager on races.

Let's stop acting like a defeated group. We need to let go of the past and start working towards our future.

April 10, 2013 - 6:02 pmListen Will Yaamakva ... Why

Randy Copley SAID...

Listen Will Yaamakva ... Why don't you keep your anti horse racing comments to yourself you ____. Or post them somewhere else.

April 10, 2013 - 5:42 pmmore people jumping ship each

dave lewis SAID...

more people jumping ship each day and who can blame them,if you have to pay a training bill at 60 dollars a day and race once a month if your lucky ,a fella could find himself in the poorhouse real quick.

April 10, 2013 - 5:15 pmMy response to the sarcastic

jim rigg SAID...

My response to the sarcastic remarks by Will Y. is simply that if a decision was made to deprive Him of His Livelong ambition to become successful in whatever chosen field and to have someone without sufficient knowledge tell Him too bad; get another field of endeavour! I would think His comments would be quite different! The people in this Industry have been blindsided by a government that has deception and collusion written all over it. We as an Industry have presented this outfit with documents proving the merit and the success of this partnership; however, the evidence shows that Politicians do indeed change facts as they see fit.

April 10, 2013 - 5:04 pmWith Mr Tannenbaum

With Mr Tannenbaum contributing millions each year to the Liberals and Conservatives, don't hold your breath on an exposure of fraud and or corruption!!

April 10, 2013 - 4:03 pmVery Good news, but is this

Very Good news, but is this too late?????

With SAR out and the purses decreasing, the game will die. I've seen the same thing happen in Quebec. The same steps, the same complaints. a lot of the same owners being forced to sell to another province or to the states.

An owner, without being a trainer will no longer exist. Who can afford 3,000.00 to $4,000 in monthly fees and race 3 time a month (if your lucky) with purses of $6,000.... I haven't seen my bill reduce since the purse reduced.....

Without the owners and their friends and family.....without new blood the game will be dead within 2 years.

Sad times....The track owners took advantage of the SAR and now it is being cancelled. It was so easy to reduce the percentage and force the track owners, who wished to keep the slots, to keep the same purse levels. Sooooooo easy. Should also have reduced the OSS purses by 30% for both grassroot and gold but keep the program alive.

I might be a wishful owner, but i still keep my fingers cross the tide will turn...if not within a month buy me out on SC. Good luck to all!!!!

April 10, 2013 - 3:42 pmBe ready for a new TV show

Be ready for a new TV show called "Ontario Greed" when this unravels. If it is investigated properly the trail will begin 2 to 3 years ago when the planning began to line certain individuals pockets with boatloads of cash.

I am sure that many are not going to be sleeping well tonight knowing this is now going to be investigated. If this goes the way I think it may go our province may never be the same.

April 10, 2013 - 2:32 pmHopefully the Auditor General

STU MCINTOSH SAID...

Hopefully the Auditor General can unravel this tangled web and see a clear picture of what has happend thus far. The AG's findings are not only important to raceing but all Ontario citizens. This is a true test of checks and balances within a democracy.

Stu McIntosh

April 10, 2013 - 2:01 pmI agree Edward. If and when

I agree Edward. If and when the entire truth about the Liberal and OLG scheme to "modernize" gaming in Ontario comes out, it will be a scandal to rival anything we have seen so far. I give credit to the PC and NDP parties for their persistence in pursuing the truth and facts surrounding all of these issues. On the horse racing issue specifically, Lisa MacLeod, Monte McNaughton and Taras Natyshak. Thank you for your hard work and commitment to horse racing in Ontario. I hope the AG is unbiased in his investigation.

April 10, 2013 - 1:59 pm"pray for a last ditch effort

Will Yamakva SAID...

"pray for a last ditch effort for salvation of Horse Racing Ontario!"

That or you get fans to the track? Just a thought.

April 10, 2013 - 11:45 amWell ir's certainly high time

john smith SAID...

Well ir's certainly high time someone took a serious look at this
fabricated package the Liberals and their outside investment interests
have been shoving down everyone's throats.
It has been shown that not only addiction increases but also crime
rates and divorce rates tend to increase around the areas of these
casinos.So now layoffs and livelihoods in the industry destroyed,
crime escalation to look forward to and possible but not guaranteed
jobs likely to be part time starring us in the face....WOW!!!
Who do we have to thank for this again?

April 10, 2013 - 11:22 amLet's all keep our fingers

Carolyn Rae SAID...

Let's all keep our fingers crossed that Horwath and the NDP support this, and pray for a last ditch effort for salvation of Horse Racing Ontario!

April 10, 2013 - 11:22 amWay to go Lisa! This should

Way to go Lisa! This should make us all feel a little better. McGuinty and Duncan are both long gone;, but the actions of P.Godfrey and his relationship with L. Tannenbaum(slot like machines in his bingo halls,and his 47% take) have left such a sour taste in our mouths, and was so very sleazy in the way it has unfolded, surely demands an investigation. When all is said and done this modernization of gaming(politically correct euphenism for gambling)undertaken by this Liberal govnernment could well trump the scandals at Ornge, E-health, and the power station fiascal.


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