Wynne Liberals to hand horse racing reins to for-profit gaming giant

NDP Economic Development and Employment Critic Taras Natyshak is concerned the Wynne government plans to hand management of the Ontario horse racing industry over to a for-profit gambling firm, despite earlier promises to the contrary.

“Three years ago I stood in this House and asked the Premier to explain her plan for horse racing in the province. When I asked her why she was betting the farm on the Woodbine Racetrack and handing more market share to a then not-for-profit giant, the Premier answered that what I was saying was just not true,” explained Natyshak, whose home riding of Essex has deep ties to the horse racing industry. 

“I’ve met with the farmers and the breeders who depend on a vibrant horse racing industry for their livelihoods. Horse people do not support the Premier’s plan to give total control of horse racing to the for-profit Woodbine Entertainment Group,” continued Natyshak.

According to Natyshak, small community tracks are concerned about their sustainability moving forwards. Track owners are frustrated by the government’s lack of transparency and accountability on the matter, and claim they are not getting any clear information from the Premier’s office.

“Why is Ontario Racing currently consulting on a 17-year funding agreement that would effectively hand over control of horse racing in the entire province of Ontario to the now for-profit Woodbine Entertainment Group, just as I had predicted three years ago?,” asked Natyshak. “The government’s first plan to modernize horse racing was a disaster that the Auditor General said would kill rural jobs. Why should rural Ontarians believe the Premier’s latest plan will be any better?”