Ontario Invests in Horse Racing to Strengthen Rural Communities

Published on March 21, 2019

Additional Funding to Ensure Long-Term Sustainability of Horse Racing Industry

Ontario's Government is putting people first by supporting rural communities through new investments to help the province's horse racing industry create and protect good jobs. 

The government will provide $10 million per year to support programs for breeders and horsepeople through the Horse Improvement Program (HIP). This will support breeding and industry development for Ontario-bred horses and will be administered by Ontario Racing, replacing the Enhanced Horse Improvement Program previously administered by the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.

"Our horse racing sector plays a vital role in our rural communities and is an important part of Ontario's heritage. This investment will help support Ontario's breeders and horsepeople, and ensure the province's horse racing community is open for business, and can create and protect jobs," said Vic Fedeli, Minister of Finance.

The government has also worked with its industry partners to reach agreements on packages through the Optional Slots at Racetracks Program (OSARP) that includes operational funding for eligible racetracks. These packages are designed to directly support the horse racing industry and rural communities.

In addition to this funding through OSARP, the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) will provide financial support to the sector through the long-term funding agreement, beginning April 1, 2019. The agreement includes funding for racetrack operations and purse support of up to $105 million per year for up to 19 years.

"Our government is committed to providing stable long-term support to help the horse racing industry build a more sustainable future for the rural businesses, jobs and communities that depend on it. This is a vital part of Ontario's heritage and our government is proud to stand behind our rural communities that rely on this industry," concluded Fedeli.

Quick Facts

  • The agreement will ensure greater accountability and transparency for how the funds are used.
  • OSARP builds on the existing long-term funding agreement and is part of the government’s commitment to support racetracks facing hardships.
  • Ontario is home to 15 racetracks — more than any other North American jurisdiction.

Background Information

Quotes

“OLG is providing nearly two decades of funding to ensure racetracks, breeders and horsepeople have the confidence they need to guide the future of the industry. This support will help promote long-term, responsible management of the horse racing industry in the province.”

Stephen Rigby

OLG's President and CEO

“The amended long-term funding agreement demonstrates how committed this government is to the citizens of rural communities across Ontario and respects the economic development horse racing generates in the province. The added support will provide racetrack operators, breeders, owners, trainers, caretakers, grooms and others who dedicate their lives to the sport a level of confidence in the long-term sustainability of the industry.”

John Hayes

Independent Chair, Ontario Racing

“This announcement gives breeders the confidence they need to make business decisions that will ensure the health of our industry for years to come.”

Walter Parkinson

President, Standardbred Breeders of Ontario Association

“A long-term commitment to have slots remain at Ajax Downs means quarter horse racing in Ontario will continue to have a place in our province. We are excited to continue to promote our unique style of racing to new customers in the region.”

Bob Broadstock

President, Quarter Racing Owners of Ontario Inc.

“The enhancements the government has made to the long-term funding agreement has bolstered support for rural racetracks and given an economic boost to rural communities across the province.”

Jim Thibert

CEO, Fort Erie Live Racing Consortium

“The amended long-term funding agreement gives our industry the foundation we need to work together to make decisions about what’s best for the future of our industry.”

Jamie Martin

Director of Operations, Grand River Raceway