With all the recent debate about a Hamilton casino, we are forgetting that Hamilton already has a casino in Flamborough - and an extensive horse race industry that depends on it.
By Judi Partridge
Published November 14, 2012
The month of October has been incredibly busy for City Council developing strategies to consult residents for their input regarding the location of a casino (or whether they want a Casino) in the city of Hamilton.
Surprisingly, many residents of the broader city still do not understand that Hamilton already has a casino/slots/racetrack gambling facility. It is located at Flamboro Downs in the city of Hamilton.
Sadly, there are residents throughout Hamilton, on the mountain, east end and in Hamilton downtown who still do not understand that Flamboro Downs - and yes, even Flamborough - is part of the city of Hamilton.
I truly wish the media would pick up on this and tell the whole story. Hamilton residents need know the facts before they vote. The vote isn't yes or no to a casino.
Flamboro Downs has 37 years of horse race history for the Flamborough communities. Several years ago, 800 slot machines were introduced. It has and still does provide employment for many people in Hamilton. Approximately 3,000 Flamborough and Hamilton associated jobs are dependent on Flamboro Downs.
We should be outraged at the devastation facing the horse race industry: farmers who grow feed, horse breeders, tack shops, horse physio facilities, jockeys, vehicle and trailer manufacturers, trainers, groomers, and so on.
There is a long list of those who will suffer the effects of the government cancellation of the slots at the race track program to fund this industry. The horse race industry cannot continue as it was, but it needs a new formula to be sustainable.
And yet, surprisingly, all we are hearing about is the casino, the horse race industry is being lost in the discussion. There is more shifting sand under the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) than high tide in Fundy Bay. The devastation to the horse race industry should not be allowed to be lost in all the casino discussion.
The bigger question that needs to be asked, now that Premier Dalton McGuinty has prorogued the provincial government, is: what does that mean to the whole casino/slots/horse race debate?
With the Ontario Legislature not sitting, there are no debates, no committee work being done, and no bills being worked on. What happens to the OLG process, the whole so-called modernization plan?
More importantly, with all provincial parties basically neutered with no one governing, who is protecting all the jobs at risk - who is protecting the taxpayers?
I am very worried for my farming community, their families and associated businesses. All parties in the provincial government are nowhere to be seen or heard. The NDP, PCs and Liberals are all very silent on the casino and horse race industry crisis. Where is everyone?
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