On March 12, 2012, the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) announced that effective March 31, 2013 the Slots at Racetracks Program will be cancelled.
While this decision was made on the provincial level, it will greatly impact the Flamborough community and the entire city of Hamilton.
Currently, Flamboro Downs receives 20 per cent of the revenue from the slot machines hosted there. When this revenue is taken away, it will impact more than just the race track. Everyone involved in the horse racing industry will be affected, from owners to trainers, jockeys to grooms. The spill over effect on the local economy will also be significant, with related businesses such as breeders, veterinarians, hay farmers and boarding facilities all feeling the repercussions of this decision.
Flamborough’s foundation is our farms and agri-business, which includes the horse racing industry. It is a big part of our community, but also a big part of the city of Hamilton’s agri-business industry of $1.5 billion.
Our residents are concerned about the future of horse racing and that is why I am doing everything I can to voice our concerns about this decisions. I have met with the management at Flamboro Downs, MPP McMeekin, the OLG and along with the Mayor and Councillor Pasuta, we are all in agreement: the horse race track and slots must stay together. In May, I presented a motion at council, with unanimous support for Flamboro Downs Slots & Racetrack as city council’s number one priority for a casino and racetrack.
While the provincial government says that there will still be enough funding to keep the horse racing industry alive and thriving, I do not believe this will be enough.
Another challenge we have been presented with is the OLG’s decision to include Burlington in the same zone as Hamilton when deciding where gaming facilities can be located. Since only one gaming facility is permitted per zone, we will be facing more competition to keep the gaming and its revenues in our city.