Day At The Track

SUPPORT STRONG FOR RACINO

12:25 AM 25 Dec 2006 NZDT
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The New Brunswick Telegraph Journal is running a four-part series that examines the province's gaming policy, and its first installment – published yesterday – focuses on the horse racing industry's support for a racino in Saint John.

There are no racinos in the province of New Brunswick, which currently has two active standardbred tracks. Saint John's Exhibition Park Raceway hosts year-round racing and Fredericton Raceway offers a shorter meet between May and September.

If the provincial government approves racinos as part of its gaming policy, it is expected that only one such facility will be built initially.

"We couldn't sustain a full meet at both tracks right now, but we're optimistic that with the right level of investment the industry will grow to the point where we might look at a second and third facility," Ross Galbraith, chair of the New Brunswick Horse Racing Industry Association and Standardbred Canada director, told the Telegraph Journal. "We think it would be a good idea to proceed like they've done on Prince Edward Island, where one facility helps support the other. It's important for all places to be buoyed."

Galbraith said all nine members of the NBHRIA executive committee have unanimously endorsed Saint John as the preferred site for a racino should the government allow then.

Galbraith said the group's nine-member executive committee has unanimously endorsed Saint John as its preferred site if the provincial government decides to allow racinos in New Brunswick. "It's the one place in New Brunswick where harness racing has hung on for more than 100 years despite everything that's been thrown at it," Galbraith said of Saint John. "Even though the facilities have deteriorated over the years, fans have continued to support racing."

According to the Telegraph Journal, advocates of a Saint John racino have the support of common council and the Saint John Board of Trade.

"I'll admit that the first time we met with (the previous) government, there wasn't any unity in our plan," city councillor Glen Tait told the Telegraph Journal. "There were a number of key players with different views on what was best. Over time, though, it grew to a point where everybody was on the same page.

"The two main reasons I feel we should go ahead with a racino - and I think my opinion reflects the opinion of the rest of council - is number one, that it will rejuvenate the harness racing industry and the many jobs that are tied in with that entire industry.

"Also, a racino would promote responsible gaming.

"In all the discussions we've had so far, it's been stated there would be no increase in the number of VLTs in the province and that there would be addictions counsellors available," added Tait.

With new Premier Shawn Graham's vocal support of the horse racing industry and his willingness to prioritize the need for a provincial gaming policy, industry stakeholders are optimistic that the issue will be dealt with in the New Year.

(With files from the Telegraph Journal)

Courtesy of Standardbred Canada

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