More On Mohawk Expansion, Racing

Published: December 11, 2015 02:18 pm EST

It was less than two weeks ago when Woodbine Entertainment Group CEO Jim Lawson made statements in the media regarding the idea of expansion at Mohawk Racetrack. Lawson has now gone into more detail on the topic, stating that he has been discussing the idea with the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. “almost daily.”

Lawson’s comments come via a piece in the Guelph Mercury. The report quotes him as saying that he is “optimistic” that WEG will “get something done at Mohawk for the longer term with OLG." (To read Lawson’s initial comments, click here)

According to his comments in the article, Lawson believes that Mohawk is an advantageous site for gaming expansion because the Town of Milton – in which Campbellville is technically a part of – has declared itself a willing host community for such an undertaking.

"Land-based gaming at racetracks, and particularly at Mohawk, is successful today in a very fast-growing area such as Milton with good access and a very willing municipality,” Lawson was quoted as saying. “ One of the problems that the OLG (gaming) modernization plan has had is, for the most part, they have not had willing municipalities. I think with the size and scope of the operation at Mohawk today that the town of Milton has open arms to an expanded facility at Mohawk. In fact, they are one of the few municipalities in the province that have already passed the zoning to allow for expanded gaming and table games.”

It was in early October when another Guelph Mercury item caught the attention of many in Ontario’s harness-racing community – that is when WEG executive vice-president Jamie Martin provided comments in regard to the possibility of year-round Standardbred racing at Mohawk.

Lawson touched on the idea of year-round Mohawk racing in the most recent article, but has explained that the concept is part and parcel with the OLG making a long-term ‘arrangement’ at Mohawk. This stems from the idea of having the Standardbred course at Woodbine Racetrack replaced with another Thoroughbred track.

"It's something that's in our range of options. I can say we're considering it,” Lawson was quoted as saying. “There are a number of things that would have to be satisfied. One, given the economics of the business and operating a second track, we certainly would like to think we could have a long-term arrangement with the OLG at Mohawk, so we have a partner out there that is sharing in the costs of running a second operation. Right now we only have a short-term arrangement with Mohawk.

"Then there are just the capital costs. We'd like to host a Breeders Crown every three, four years or so. If we were to do that, we'd like to make sure we have dining room facilities not just for the Breeders Crown, but winterization, period, at Mohawk. It comes with a substantial capital cost. The longer-term arrangement we can have with OLG will certainly help us amortize those capital costs.

(With files from the Guelph Mercury)