Province says slots-at-racetrack program back
No word yet on what this will mean for Fort Erie Race Track, which is up for sale
In a news release touting his accomplishments from his first 100 days in office, the office of Ontario Premier Doug Ford wrote that the slots-at-racetrack program is back from the grave.
The statement from Ford’s office, titled Promise Made, Promises Kept, details things the premier is highlighting as victories, such as his buck-a-beer campaign and scrapping the Drive Clean program.
Most notably for Niagara, the release claims the slots-at-racetrack program has returned. However, what exactly that means for Fort Erie, where slots were removed when the program ended, remains unclear.
Local officials would not comment on the prospect of slots returning, and government officials have not released any information relating to the scope of the return of the slots-at-race-
tracks program, or if the slots deals are limited to select tracks, of if the deal extends to all on Ontario’s horse racing tracks like the old program did.
The slots at Fort Erie Race Track were removed in 2012 by the Liberal government. Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. had taken the lion’s share of the revenue from slot machines, another portion went to owners of track venues, and another portion went to the host municipality.
The PC government release lists “bringing back the Slots-at-Racetrack Program” as one of the accomplishments. In the accompanying timeline graphic, the slots-at-racetrack item is pegged on Oct. 9, which was the same day the government announced a new contract with another horse racing venue, Ajax Downs, to keep 500 slot machines there until at least 2026.
While on the campaign trail this summer, Ford said he would bring slot machines back to Fort Erie. A return of the program would be a major revenue generator for Fort Erie Race Track, which was purchased in 2014 by U.S investor Carl Paladino. He put the track up for sale this summer asking about $7 million.
Under the Slots-at-Racetrack Program program, the municipality received $33.5 million in non-taxed gaming revenue from the 400 slot machines installed at the track between 1999 and 2012. Town hall received payments every four months from OLG, and the final quarterly payment before the plug was pulled was $326,000.
A release from the Ontario premier’s office states that the slots-at-racetrack program has been brought back.