Harness racers warn gambling changes will kill industry
Harness racers at the Rideau-Carleton Raceway are warning of the death of the industry if the province goes ahead with gambling reforms.
They said proposed changes to how the government funds slots at racetracks will mean the loss of their livelihood.
Matthew McDonald is a third-generation horseman who said he now regrets opening his own stables last September.
"It's over, that's it, this time next year they're going to shut the doors, no more money, no more racing, no more anything," he said.
"I poured every dime into it, harness, equipment, horses, everything, shaving, stall-rent, feed - whatever I had, I put into it."
The changes will affect the purse, or how much the horse owners get to split from the winners.
Currently the government gets 75 per cent of the revenue from slot machines at the track, while the horse owners get ten per cent.
That's set to change when the province ends that funding agreement along with the monopoly on slots at racetracks to explore other casino locations.
"We have about 2,000 horses that are racing in this region and there are 17 tracks," said Gary McDonald. "If there are only two or three tracks that survive, do the math."
Gary McDonald said he's sorry his son is following in his footsteps.
"There's 12 years of my investment," he said. "It's gone, totally gone, with no income left."
"All our dreams are shattered, we have to look for something else," said Wayne Laviolette, owner of Hillside Stables. "I don't know what but I know this farm will be for sale."
Horse owners said if racetracks close that will leave thousands of horses across the province without a purpose, meaning they could be up for slaughter.
With a report from CTV Ottawa's John Hua