Dear Mssrs. Wikinson, Buchanan and Snobelen et al
Ontario Horse Racing Transition Panel
Once again, thank you for the opportunity to present on behalf of Fort Erie and the excellent, insightful and candid discussion that followed from our engagement with the panel.
We are of course, following the panel efforts very closely and I am pleased with the way we interacted and will leave you to your onerous but so important mandate and task.
On behalf of the 300 employees and 500+ horsepeople, service providers and merchants and affected and concerned residents and fans of Fort Erie Race Track, I am compelled however to provide an addendum, specific to the OHRIA proposal entitled “Plan for the future of the Ontario horse racing and breeding industry.”
I can assure you that without equivocation, we at Fort Erie and not supportive of this plan and for very good reasons.
1) There is nothing new….this is more of the same old “give us money but we will share it among fewer of the chosen.”
2) It completely ignores the current position of Fort Erie, being extricated from slots but also being for some reason, being the only community in Ontario excommunicated from OLG.
3) It was Fort Erie that first came up with the concept of our track privatizing and operating the SLOTs and since being excluded, now forms the basis of the OHRIA report and “plan.”
Its one thing to steal our ideas but now the very “organization” that purports to represent our horsepeople and track is stealing our bread and butter…our very livelihood and are so callous as to conveniently “ignore” this critical factor in its report to the Transition Panel…and actually believe it will go unnoticed in the industry and the media!
4) Their race-date calendar approach is similar…just take what exists, minus Fort Erie races and there you have it!
What great insight. What great and thoughtful planning. What keen strategic thinking.
5) Purse pooling. Fort Erie has been for more than four years a leading advocate for purse and operational pooling. The reason being the province created a solution to several issues when it instituted the Slots or Race Track program but…they never created a true, accountable “program” with accountability, performance goals or demanded federation by the constituents to support the industry.
So now OHRIA want to pool money, but Fort Erie has to die first.
6) Accountability and Transparency…..they all talk the words but each of you, the Province and anyone in the industry clearly knows that is not their intent..let alone willingly cooperate with those in government charged to ensure they do so.
There has not been anyone more inclusive or transparent or publicly accountable or cooperative in horse racing than Fort Erie these last 4 years that it has been successfully run through the Fort Erie Live Racing Consortium…PERIOD!.
For that, I think we are capable of speaking to those points with no fear of hypocrisy.
So why is that? How do these “agents of the industry,” these “licensed organizations of Horse racing,” these “benevolent and protective associations” get away with lack of accountability, lack of transparency, lack of accountability and have as their battle cry for the past 10 years or so, “Those are OUR monies” when referring to the 20 per cent net slots revenue share?
In my opinion, its because the controls, the checks and balances are virtually controlled by too few people in the industry and now seemingly that turning into a dynasty not that different than a third world dictatorship, despite what the province has tried to to do in terms of regulation, sustainability and growth efforts.
Perhaps if we are to save the Ontario Horseracing Industry, its time to put people in place that are not reliant or dependent upon horse racing, do not have a history that answers every reasonable question with the answer “that’s just the way it is”, ensure that “Woodbine” remain a noun and not a verb, explain that accountability and “partnership” with these agencies means working together for the betterment of the people involved as well as all Ontarians and not confuse their not-for-profit mandates by trying to frustrate the electorate in a by-election let alone a government coupe.
I would be only too pleased to elaborate these statements to the Transition Committee and then perhaps we can turn our minds towards building new market potential for the horse racing industry in Ontario instead of dealing with the same old people who are only to pleased to cannibalize the industry and eat the fallen remains.
Gentlemen of the Committee, yours is not an easy task but this one is only too obvious. Shame on them!
James A. Thibert
CEO, Fort Erie Live Racing Consortium