Toronto, ON – March 9, 2021 – On behalf of the Canadian horse racing industry, Woodbine Entertainment, Racetracks of Canada, Quebec Jockey Club and the Horsemen’s Benevolent Protective Association Of Ontario (HBPA), would like to thank the House of Commons’ Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights for the opportunity to be witnesses today as part of its study of Bill C-218, an act to amend the Criminal Code that would legalize single-event sports betting in Canada.
“We sincerely appreciate the opportunity to represent the horse racing industry today as Bill C-218 continues to be studied,” said Jim Lawson, CEO, Woodbine Entertainment. “After participating in today’s discussion, we remain confident that the Government appreciates the importance of the horse racing industry, recognizes its substantial economic impact, and understands the need for it to be protected from any unintended consequences from the legalization of sports betting in Canada.”
During the committee meeting, Racetracks of Canada President Bill Ford, Quebec Jockey Club Director Murielle Thomassin, HBPA President Sue Leslie and Lawson reiterated support for Private Members Bill C-218 but requested that it adopt language to protect the industry and the 50,000 jobs it supports across Canada by prohibiting fixed odds wagering on horse racing.
In recognition that sports betting will likely reduce horse racing’s share of the wagering market in Canada, and in response to the ongoing financial impacts of COVID-19 on the industry, Ford also requested the Government consider legalizing Historical Horse Racing – a pari-mutuel gaming product where individuals can place a wager on the outcome of races that have occurred in the past. Before the individual locks in a wager, information presented is anonymized in a way that prevents the player from identifying which historic race they are betting on.
“Historical Horse racing is currently prohibited by the Criminal Code, despite it being a proven and legal product in many jurisdictions in North America,” Ford said.
Revenue from Historical Horse Racing would be particularly beneficial to the smaller tracks that only run seasonally for a few weeks a year.
“Overall, we continue to be optimistic about receiving the protection our industry deserves and remain hopeful we will be provided with an opportunity to participate in sports betting in a meaningful way,” Lawson said.
Woodbine Press Release