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Ontario’s Horse People Receive Compensation, Superior Court Rules

The Superior Court of Canada recently revealed its ruling directly affecting individuals involved in Standardbred horse racing. Justice M. Emery made it clear that the Government of Ontario has to compensate the breeders for the way it canceled its Slots at Racetracks program back in the days. The end of this program had a negative impact on the horse racing field of Ontario.

It could be recalled that the popular Slots at Racetracks program was among the factors capable of boosting the local horse racing field. Ontario had its Slots at Racetracks program launch operation in the late 1990s, as a response to growing discontent with casino proposals.

Slots at Racetracks Program

Communities across the province were opposing well-rounded casino venues construction, eventually pushing gaming to the local racetracks. People wanted to limit casino expansion across the province and instead allow it to focus only on the already existing racetracks. The gaming halls adjacent to the racetracks featured slot machines exclusively and their gaming revenue was able to support the operation of the racetrack, as well as local projects via regular gaming revenue allocations.

The year 2012 was an important date for the people associated with Standardbred horse racing, as this is when the Liberal government scrapped everything the previous Progressive Conservative government had done for the horse people of Ontario. The Slots at Racetracks program had to come to an end and the horse people of Ontario have previously claimed that the way that program came to an end was a rather abrupt one.

People received a notice for the end of the program about six weeks ahead of its official end which has stirred the pot as a too quick of a measure implemented. Up until that point, slot machines overseen by the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation had been able to fuel the racetracks with gaming revenue and support people relying on horse racing for their income.

Compensation Sought

Making the horse racing industry a sustainable one was among the main goals of both the government at the time and the Crown corporation overseeing the gaming field in Ontario. The year 2014 was another important one for the horse people of Ontario, as it saw several horse breeders take things to court with a legal battle. Back then, they made it clear that the six-week notice issued was too abrupt.

Individuals working in the horse racing field know that plans are being made five weeks in advance, as this is how long each of the cycles lasts. The six weeks were simply not enough for the individuals to prepare for the eventual impact the end of Slots at Racetracks program had on their livelihood. Ontario Harness Horse Association also pointed out that the negative impact this program end had on the industry was substantial.

Justice Emery pointed out in the ruling that the Ontario government had breached the arrangement it had with the provincial horse people and the period between the notice and the end of the program should have been longer. Horse breeders will have to be compensated for the hardship they went through.