Casino News

Woodbine Ent. Frowns Upon Lack of Reopening Conversation

Woodbine Entertainment is a strong supporter of Ontario’s gaming field, seeking equal opportunities for development for all gaming leaders. Jim Lawson, Chief Executive Officer of the racing leader, recently expressed his confusion as to why the Ontario provincial government has given its support to NHL games to commence, while horse racing at Woodbine’s facilities is suspended.

It could be recalled that December 2020 brought a temporary suspension of operation of live harness racing at Woodbine Mohawk Park in Campbellville. Moreover, the horse racing leader of Ontario also had to cancel the remaining live Thoroughbred races at Woodbine Racetrack in Toronto, essentially scrapping three weeks of live events part of its 2020 live racing schedule.

NHL Home Game

This suspension is taking its toll on Woodbine Entertainment and on the horse people of Ontario, currently unable to participate in horse races and benefit from them. Horse racing in Ontario is among the businesses considered non-essential and therefore restricted by the provincial government. It strives to protect the people during these trying times and promote physical distancing whenever that is possible.

Live horse racing is related to training sessions and work on the backstretch, both considered unsafe by the Ontario provincial government. However, Mr. Lawson recently expressed his confusion with the latest decision made by the provincial leaders when it comes to the businesses and sports allowed to operate. Recently, the Toronto Maple Leafs and Ottawa Senators received a nod to participate in home games with all safety and health measures implemented.

Lisa MacLeod, Ontario’s Minister of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture, made it clear that the home games and training for them will have to come with the respective health and safety protocols guaranteeing protection for all players and individuals associated with the games. Individuals interested in the long-anticipated NHL games will also be protected via the safety measures. This decision stirred the pot in the local horse racing community.

Live Races Relaunch

Mr. Lawson pointed out that the approved launch of NHL home games was an unexpected decision, given the current circumstances. Horse racing is impossible at the moment and the unprecedented situation continues. The Chief Executive Officer said that the provincial lockdown continues and it should not make live sports games possible. Mr. Lawson also stated that health lockdown should focus on essential businesses’ operation.

Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health met with public health officials in both Toronto and Ottawa ahead of the official decision to allow NHL home games. However, the situation is constantly changing and in a recent statement, Premier Doug Ford said that the upcoming weeks could see the introduction of more measures eyeing people’s protection. Mr. Lawson said that the Premier has not reached out for consultation with the horse people of rural Ontario.

It could be recalled that both Woodbine Racetrack and Woodbine Mohawk Park unveiled strict health and safety measures back in the spring of 2020, aiming to protect the people grooming and training racehorses. Physical distancing was also mandatory, as well as the wearing of face masks, eventually giving positive results and making it possible for the racetracks to relaunch live races in the summer.