On Wednesday (June 27), the Guelph (Ont.) Mercury newspaper contains the latest comments by Nick Eaves, president and CEO of Woodbine Entertainment, on the slots at the racetrack program. Eaves told Dave Briggs, who is also editor of The Canadian Sportsman, that Woodbine invested $175 million just in capital obligations pertaining directly to the slot parlors at Mohawk and Woodbine. The company invested a further $210 million in "racing-related” upgrades to the two facilities.
Eaves told Briggs that horse racing's share of slot revenue is simply rent paid to the tracks for "making the land available, making the building available, allowing the OLG as the tenant to take advantage of all the infrastructure that's there, giving them access to our parking.
"They didn't have to go and build the thousands of parking spots that they use, and the racetracks have contributed approximately 50 per cent of the capital in connection with the slots program," said Eaves. "So, it's clearly not a subsidy. It's a commercial arrangement where we earn revenue in the form of rent.”
Eaves also said it would be impossible for horse racing to compete against the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation plans for a huge gaming expansion in the province.
"The (gaming) competition that's going to be coming down the line is unprecedented,” Eaves said. "They plan to open several new gaming locations, expand the amount of gaming in each of the existing locations, introduce new gaming products to bingo halls, launch online gaming by the OLG before the end of the year. Potentially, sports betting is coming to the province through the lottery corporation. All of that is what we're facing all of a sudden.”