Industry Reports

Fraser Downs Greenlights Races Sept. 30 Harmed without Gaming

Fraser Downs was supposed to see the beginning of its live harness racing events this Thursday but this will have to change. Harness Racing British Columbia recently made it clear that the live races will have to commence on September 30. The lack of financial support is what prompts this change.

British Columbia remains a province without in-person gambling and this has been the case over the past half a year. For the time being, the provincial government has not issued an official timeline that could see the launch of casino gaming, gambling halls operation, as well as the reopening of bingo locations. Slot machines adjacent to racetracks such as Fraser Downs have also been affected by this.

September 30

Great Canadian Gaming Corporation is the casino operator overseeing Fraser Downs Racetrack and Casino in Cloverdale. The gaming and harness horse racing hotspot just outside Vancouver has always been among the popular racetracks on a provincial level and people from near and far often make their way there. Over the past six months, the unprecedented situation has remained.

Standardbred horse racing and gambling offerings have been able to draw a crowd on a daily basis back in the days when this was possible. There are 460 slot machines up for grabs along with poker offerings for the people ready to try their poker skills. However, the government has not allowed in-person gambling, placing British Columbia behind other Canadian provinces. This inability to see in-person gambling return has harmed the purses.

As a result of this, now live Standardbred races would not launch on September 17, as it was previously planned. Instead, they will have to launch on September 30, postponing the eventual start. Randy Rutledge, president of Harness Racing B.C. stated that the harness racing leader was looking forward to the funding coming from gaming revenue allocations, but the slots overseen by Great Canadian Gaming remained closed.

No Slots Operation

The casino operator oversees 25 gaming locations across four provinces and it launched its reopening process across almost all of them. For the time being, British Columbia remains the only one that has not allowed the return of live gambling. The casino operator recently made it clear that Casino Nova Scotia in Sydney and Halifax are going to relaunch gaming offerings on October 5.

Slots at Fraser Downs will have to remains closed. Mr. Rutledge also clarified that there will be live harness events all the way to December. Once the end of this year comes, an evaluation of the situation will be needed and he hopes that in-person gambling will be allowed by then. This support will fuel purses and subsequently allow the racing season to continue in 2021.

The casino operator is in constant conversation with Mr. Rutledge. Great Canadian Gaming has confirmed that a relaunch of in-person gaming could take place in November, but those are all projections. It all depends on the government’s evaluation of the business reopening timeline. All Fraser Downs races are going to be streamed live online. Wagers on them are also allowed.