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OLG To Be Sued By Horse Breeders Due To Cancelled Slots At Racetracks

By: Russell Potvin , Fri. Mar. 14, 2014

OLG To Be Sued By Horse Breeders

On March 31, 2013, the OLG closed the doors on a major revenue source for racetracks and horse breeders by putting an end to their slot program at racetracks across Ontario.

While operational, approximately $345 million was generated and divided among the three recipients per year, amounting to more than $3.4 billion for the horse track industry over the approximate 15 years that it ran since the program inception in 1998. The decision to end the Slots At Racetracks Program has been met with criticism and disagreement from both those losing an income source as well as those patrons who appreciated the chance to take a few spins in between race times.

Despite ongoing negotiations throughout the two years since the end of the profitable gambling addition, the Standardbred Breeders of Ontario Association has seen too little being offered in terms of a solution to the loss of revenue for their businesses in the meantime. It seems that, even with advice and support from the provincial government, the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation has been unable to offer sufficient resolution.

The province has pledged more than $400 million between 2014 and 2018 to the owners, who will directly collect $80.6 million, and breeders looking to find balance for what they once had. Despite this offer, there is still a significant shortfall. In a simple comparison, were the $345 million per year previously earned to have remained steady, the slots program would have earned a total around $1.725 billion dollars. The gap between the potential earnings and the offer on the table would be approximately $1.325 billion dollars over the next five years.

The lawsuit, which has stands at a total of $65 million. $5 million, "or as otherwise determined by this Honourable Court," of this is listed as punitive damages, often added to a compensation as a way of discouraging the defending party from undertaking the same or similar actions in the future. The remainder of the sum being a reparation for "negligence and/or intentional misrepresentation, breach of contract and unjust enrichment," though this amount, similar to the offer made by the Ontario government, would leave the breeders and owners still far short of their potential which is what compensatory damages are typically meant to correct. To paraphrase, these sums as laid out by the Notice of Action posted by the Standardbred Breeders of Ontario Association are to cover breeding and boarding costs for horses that, due to the abrupt end to the program, may not end up as racers after the five years as a result of lowered traffic and earnings at racetracks.