Current Horse Racing Issues

Briefing Notes re: the standardbred sector (harness racing)

A message from:

Chuck Keeling
General Manager, Orangeville Raceway Ltd.
(Sandown Park & Fraser Downs)

A new British Columbia government was sworn into office earlier this year and many changes have already taken place. There are not only new Members of the Legislature, new cabinet ministers and new directors of various agencies, the B.C. Racing Commission has been eliminated as a body detached from government, replaced by Victoria-based members of the public service.

We have made an extraordinary effort during the past several years to educate decision-makers, stakeholders and the public about issues surrounding a steady 20-year decline of horse racing in this province. We fear now that the wholesale change of personalities might force this information process back to square one. These briefing notes have been prepared for the benefit of newcomers whose decisions may impact upon our industry. It is an attempt to crystallize the most important issues we face.

Chuck Keeling
26 October, 2001


"I view horse racing as an extension of the agriculture industry.....I am not interested in measures to just help the industry survive. We want it to thrive, not merely survive."
- Gordon Campbell,
as Leader of the Opposition.

Recent studies and publications of the B.C. horse racing industry have advocated that the sport should report through an economic ministry and not be mired amid the gaming infrastructure.

The "gaming" aspect of horse racing (pari-mutuel wagering) is a federal responsibility, through the Canadian Pari-Mutuel Agency of Agriculture Canada. The provincial role is to determine which operators are granted the right to conduct racing meets, and to share duties with federal authorities to ensure that the races are honest and properly conducted.

All horse racing jurisdictions in Canada, except B.C. are permitted to offer fans machine gaming, a devastating competitive disadvantage to us. Should this opportunity present itself in this province, governance of that aspect of the our business would appropriately fall under broader gaming management, in the same sense that track hospitality services work with the Liquor Control and Licensing Branch.

There is no comparison at all between casinos and what we offer. Horse racing is a diverse mix of agriculture, sports and entertainment with thousands of independent participants.

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ęCopyright Fraser Downs 2001