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Sports betting bill poses existential threat to Canada’s horse racing industry

November 3, 2020

TORONTO – November 3, 2020 – Racetracks of Canada, Ontario Racing and Woodbine Entertainment are raising significant concerns with Private Member’s Bill C-218. The bill is currently being debated by Members of Parliament in the Canadian House of Commons.

PMB C-218 seeks to legalize Single-Event Sports Betting in Canada, but damage to the horseracing industry may end up being an unintended consequence of the legislation. It creates an opening for international companies and others to offer wagering on horseraces in Canada at the expense of the local industry.

Canada’s horseracing industry is sustainable because of the carefully constructed agreements between betting establishments, horsepeople groups and others in the industry, to ensure that a fair portion of the revenue generated by wagering is circulated back into the horse racing ecosystem. C-218 legalizes wagering on horseracing outside of this framework, jeopardizing the industry support model that serves as the basis of more than 50,000 jobs and $5.7 billion in economic activity across Canada, in both rural areas and in cities.

“We recognize there is an opportunity for the Canadian economy to benefit from the legalization of sports wagering,” said Jim Lawson, CEO, Woodbine Entertainment. “However, we want to ensure it does not come at the cost of the horse racing industry which has been an important part of the economy for decades. We would be supportive of the legalization of sports betting in Canada if our concerns were addressed through a legislative process.”

The horseracing industry is calling for the Trudeau Government to take over the sports betting initiative and proceed with a legislative package in the upcoming Fall Economic Statement or the 2021 Budget that legalizes Single-Event Sports Betting with measures that ensure the local horseracing industry is not an unintended casualty.

This can be done by ensuring only horse racing establishments can offer wagering on horse races. A new revenue source, Historical Horse Racing, should also be provided to the industry to offset any revenue loss to the new competitive product of single-event betting on other sports.

These measures will ensure horseracing can remain sustainable in Canada along with the more than 50,000 jobs it supports across the country.