I read it, and I noticed something big.
- Senior representatives from the provincial government, the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG), racing and gaming regulators and the Ontario Horse Racing Industry Association (OHRIA) on behalf of horse people, racetrack operators, breeders and owners, continue working in earnest to design a roadmap for success. This group is tackling a number of complex and time-consuming challenges including:
- 1. Optimizing the OLG’s evolving approach to the modernization of its facilities and products with its obligations to meet government revenue demands as well accommodate a fully integrated partnership with the provincial racing industry.
- 2. Looking for opportunities to create and grow new revenues for both the racing industry and OLG.
- 3. Equipping government ministries such as finance and agriculture and food with the proper resources to assist in the growth and sustainability of racing.
- 4. Tasking regulatory bodies such as the Ontario Racing Commission (ORC) and the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) to reorganize in order to meet the demands of racing and gaming integration, including the potential revision of significant legal and regulatory barriers to new programs.
- 5. Effecting day-to-day racing industry self-governance to ensure the smoothest possible path to industry sustainability, the most effective relationship with the OLG and regulators and the most effective reporting relationship with the provincial government.
- 6. Broadening public interest in horse racing through planning for an integrated, province-wide marketing campaign designed to impact current and future generations of potential new racing and gaming enthusiasts.
- 7. Coordinating and cooperating on market initiatives and interactive communications.
- 8. Planning for the implementation of the best and most relevant ideas presented by members of the public to racing’s transition panel as part of the long term plan to sustain racing.
In those eight points discussing the Industry's goals moving forward, the words "wagering"and "handle" aren't mentioned once.
The racing industry in the province understands they need new revenue, and they've admitted the the Slots at Racetracks Program isn't coming back, but the mentality is still wrong in my opinion. Racing seems to think their new revenue should come from the OLG, and while a partnership with the OLG is worth having to target a new market, this should not be the focus. The focus should be improving racing's existing product and making it more appealing to bettors.
Racing has moved in the right direction when it comes to growing wagering, but it hasn't gone nearly far enough. No matter how much marketing we do with the OLG, racing will never be self sustainable if we have tracks charging 24.6% takeout on Win wagers. Unless we make an appealing wagering product, we're not going to get new people to become regular horseplayers.
The mentality in Ontario needs to change. We can't keep worrying about finding a new handout to fund purses. OHRIA, and everyone else in Ontario, needs to change the way they approach growing the industry.