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

The Niagara Falls Review - - Front Page - JAMES CULIC Metroland

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.

THE NI­A­GARA FALLS RE­VIEW FILE PHOTO

A re­lease from the On­tario pre­mier’s of­fice states that the slots-at-race­track pro­gram has been brought back.

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