Day At The Track

Hiawatha racing, slot operations in jeopardy

06:15 PM 13 Mar 2012 NZDT
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The future of Sarnia's racetrack at Hiawatha Horse Park looks bleak now that the Ontario government has reneged on a deal to subsidize the horsemen's purse. It's also not clear whether Hiawatha Slots will survive a barrage of changes announced by Finance Minister Dwight Duncan March 12.

"The Liberal government is out of control," said Peter Core, a Sarnia horseman and vice-president of the Ontario Harness Horse Association.

"I have a bad feeling but I don't know for certain what this is going to mean for racing in Sarnia."

The government says it has directed the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) to stop annual payments to the horse racing industry on March 31, 2013.

Racetracks depend on the 10% they get from OLG slots revenue at gaming facilities like Hiawatha Slots, Core said.

The current deal works well for both the horsemen and the OLG, attracting gamblers to track and slots operations in the same building, he said.

But now the government says it intends to "reconfigure" the number of gaming sites and move many to new locations.

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