December 8th Meeting Recap

The Horse Peoples Alliance of Ontario, a not-for-profit corporation that advocates for the common interests of all horse people in Ontairo, Thoroughbred, Standardbred and Quarter Horse held an informational meeting at the Sheraton Toronto Hotel on Wednesday December 6, 2017.

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Update from The Horse Peoples Alliance of Ontario

The HPAO closely monitored the Webinar conducted on Friday February 10, 2017 as to the original Letter of Intent (LOI) executed between WEG and the OLG September 12, 2016, but only revealed to the industry for review several hours before the lawyers’ discussion as to what was contained in it. The Alliance is now further aware of the release of the final Letter of Intent dated February 16, 2017 unchanged from the original version of September 12, 2016. It is the same letter.

It is interesting to note that the LOI discussed and now finalized is a document executed 5 months ago, well before consultations held by OR respecting its proposal during the fall months of 2016, and not including any of the comments that were generated during those consultations, comments in many instances that were strongly critical of the proposal. It seems that the OR proposal and the consultation period that followed cannot be described as a genuine effort by OR to gauge and take in the desires of the industry since the results of that process did not find its way into the now final LOI established to govern the industry for seventeen (17) years.

Ontario Racing in the release of its Long Term Funding Proposal and in the light of the LOI Webinar made the following statement:

Ontario Racing is pleased to release a preliminary report that summarizes the views and perspectives received from industry stakeholders regarding a proposed long term funding framework for horseracing in Ontario. This report will be posted for industry comment for a period of 25 days, to ensure that industry participants have ample opportunity to provide additional and new feedback regarding the findings contained in this report.

The second phase of consultations will ensure that the final report is an accurate representation of the Ontario horse racing industry’s perspective on the proposed long term funding framework.

The HPAO has determined that the statements above have little substance and offer no hope to horse people that any of their real day to day issues are of concern or even included in the process of reorganization. Clearly the original consultation period, with the horse peoples’ investment of time and interest, was not deemed worthy of inclusion in the LOI, and the suggested additional period of 25 days for comment suggests only more of the same, whereby those few who seek and hold control ignore those many who make the horse racing industry their life and livelihood.

It defies logic and concern that horse people should be forced to consider and ultimately simply accept a major reorganizational document that does not reflect, in the slightest, the concerns and criticisms that were made during the consultation period. Nor can the Alliance resolve the question as to why all of these dealings are proceeding with a shroud of secrecy thrown over the facts as to financial information and transactional accountability that is required but is never exercised.

HPAO has continuously demanded disclosure of critical financial and contractual information setting out the true state of fact upon which the horse people of Ontario risk, every day, resources, effort and careers. The information is never disclosed and the demands for it completely ignored. Obviously, the OLG, WEG and OR seek a speedy buy in to what is unquestionably a flawed proposal and one that seemingly benefits only race tracks, and WEG in particular, without any recognition of the critical needs of breeders, owners, trainers and the like.

Surely the Government of Ontario cannot stand aside and allow a process to continue that is so clearly unfair, unequal and dramatically unjust lulled into apparent disinterest by certain elements of the racing industry that allege, inaccurately, that their position arises from unanimity and satisfaction of thousands of hard working horse people.

In the light of there being no financial disclosure provided to horse people despite many repeated requests for that information, the numbers below are the best information the Alliance can obtain from available public sources as to the true state of financial reality of this industry thereby exposing the disproportionate amounts of money allocated as between racetracks and horse people.

Slot rental amounts paid to race tracks $133,000,000
Gross wagering revenues from all sources $173,000,000*
Horse Racing Partnership Fund $100,000,000
PMTR return of tax revenues annually $59,000,000
Total revenue $465,000,000**

Total purses paid for all three Breeds in 2015 $165,000,000***

Approximated additional amounts paid to the regulator, horse associations and HIP $15,000,000

Where does the money go?

The above are estimates based on limited disclosure

*This amount of wagering is set out at its highest approximate number but may be less.

**This total may be less if the gross wagering is ultimately disclosed as a lesser amount, or in fact more if the revenue from uncashed tickets, breakage and uncashed purse cheques are disclosed and accounted for.

***This amount includes horse people contributions of nominating. sustaining and starting amounts.

Out of a fund annually, from all sources of approximately $465,000,000, the horse people of Ontario have access to, on the basis that they are smart, talented, run good businesses and have good fortune, of purse money of approximately $165,000,000, while race tracks suffer under the heavy burden of operating their facilities with merely $285,000,000, approximately. The HPAO understands that out of that $285,000,000, rental agreements signed with race tracks to merely provide floor space for slot operations creates revenue of some $135,000,000, leaving $150,000,000 in the hands of the race tracks to use as they determine in their best interests and as yet never disclosed or accounted for.

Accordingly, the Alliance believes that there needs to be a fairer distribution of available funds and an equal control of racing for horse people.

Frank Roth
Chair

Alliance Takes it's Message to Members of Provincial Legislature

A Statement of the Horse Peoples’ Alliance of Ontario

 

For far too long the Thoroughbred, Standardbred and Quarterhorse horse people of Ontario have been marginalized, and put off to the side when significant decisions as to their future have been made. On too many occasions horse people have been asked for their views only to find that those views are heard but not listened to. For too many years the intentional confidential compartmentalizing of decisions and agreements have kept important information from horse people. For much of the last decade the divisions between the breeds have been emphasized so as to restrict and impede the sharing of knowledge. As a consequence, a go it alone approach that inappropriately and unfairly creates competition amongst the horse people, which should only be a factor on the race track, has been generated at the decision making table.

Too often the required principles of transparency and accountability have been pushed aside in the desire to effect speedy change. The Horse Peoples’ Alliance of Ontario sees that it is happening again and a voice of protest must be raised and heard by the Ontario Government.

The Alliance appreciates and recognizes the significance of the role of the Ontario Government in the racing industry to stabilize, regulate and to assist importantly in its financial future viability, and the genuine desire of the Ontario Government to do the right things to achieve that goal.

Given the foregoing, horse people of all three breeds view with grave concern the current draft proposal of Ontario Racing to reorganize the racing industry, placing even greater control with the racetrack, and setting out a financial model for the government without any discussion or input from those who will risk their careers and livelihood under that model.

There is something seriously amiss with a proposal that puts forth a predetermined reorganization and then grants to others a truncated right to a limited number of consultative opportunities all premised on a basis that the reorganization must be accepted as proposed or the Ontario Government will tire of the industry and give up on racing. Fear mongering and sowing seeds of division within and across the breeds is no longer an effective approach to solving the very real issues the racing industry faces today.

The Horse Peoples’ Alliance of Ontario trusts the Ontario Government to be considerate of the needs and interests of all horse people. The Alliance believes that the Ontario Government is not unmindful of the thousands of horse people who directly participate in horse racing and the many thousands more in the rural and agricultural communities of the province who are dependent on racing and breeding for their economic wellbeing.

The answers to the future viability and growth of the industry, and a return to a time when owning, breeding and training horses in this province was in many respects the best in North America lies in making haste at a slower pace. It lies truly in the application of transparency and accountability to all that is done, considered and decided. It lies in the full disclosure of the agreements that exist today and the negotiations that are carried on in and for the future.

The Alliance therefore calls upon the Ontario Government to accept that the horse people of the province have a right to make considered representations as to the future of the industry that they love and have worked in for so long, and that they are entitled, now, to a full and complete disclosure of the agreements and understandings that they must tolerate today in order to participate, and that decisions as to the future need not be made on the quick. The Alliance trusts that the Government does not require a speedy conclusion based only on one set of representations by only one entity.  Horse people of Ontario need the opportunity to examine the current realities that bind parties today through confidential agreements which have never been available to them, but yet they are expected to simply accept as the governing rules.

The Alliance believes that the following sets out some, but not necessarily all of the information that is needed for the Alliance and horse people of all breeds to make recommendations to the government as to how the industry should be organized, how to bring back fairness and openness through which true partnerships can be crafted for the betterment of all, race track, owner, breeder, trainer and the agricultural community.

  • Contracts between Associations and Racetracks;

  • Alliance agreement between WEG and other Racetracks;

  • Transfer payment agreements between Government and Racetracks;

  • Ontario Lottery and Gaming rental agreements;

  • Allocation of Pari- Mutuel tax reduction funds;

  • Wagering information from CPMA;

  • Commissions from wagering, uncashed ticket revenue, uncashed purse checks;

  • Commissions from sale of Ontario product;

  • Budgets for Ontario Racing or Ontario Lottery and Gaming Racing division;

While recognizing that a continued certainty of funding is necessary, certainly for the breeding segment of the industry, the Alliance seeks to moderate sensibly the rush to a judgment that need not be quickly concluded, particularly if the speed to the conclusion works to the contrary of the best interests of those most concerned. The Alliance asks for the fuller opportunity for the disclosure of information thereby making horse people a true knowledge partner in the industry. The Alliance asks for the right and the opportunity to have its voice heard.

Chairman
Frank L. Roth

Non-Executive Consultant
Steven Lehman

Advisory Committee
Dr. Paul Branton
Rene Hunderup
Brian O'Leary
Mark Williams