21 February 2008

Fort Erie: The News Is That There Was A Chance Of No Racing

Wow, politicians patting themselves on the back as if they accomplished something fantastic, when in fact, all they did was keep the public in the dark about the possibility that Fort Erie might not race this year.
Everyone was expecting news on if Fort Erie horsemen were to get extra money from OLG, instead they got the "big" news: Fort Erie will race this year because Nordic Gaming will "bite the bullet" to buy time.
What a bunch of crap.

From the Welland Tribune:

Last fall, Nordic Gaming announced plans to build a $300-million facility at the track that would include a 350-room hotel, conference centre, spa and time-share condominiums as well as improvements to the grandstand and backstretch areas.

It requires the approval of the Ontario Lottery and Gaming, which so far has not been received. Nordic has said it would not move forward without a commitment from the government to help subsidize purses at the Border Oval during the development.

No money is being offered by the Ontario government at this point, but all sides concerned said they are confident a report by the Sadinsky panel led by former Ontario Racing Commission chairman Stanley Sadinsky will offer solutions for the province's $2.1-billion horse racing industry.

Nordic is trying to get the OLG to be a partner in the deal. If they wanted to spend $300 million on improvements, nobody would stop them. In my view, they don't want to spend a dime. They hardly spend money on maintaining their own backstretch.

This $300 million smoke and mirrors project will never see the light of day. No government official will be stupid enough to make it happen. Look where Fort Erie is on a map. You have Niagara Falls 20 minutes down the QEW and you have Buffalo expanding their casino operation, with a goal of having a major casino in the very near future. Both have blackjack and poker. Nordic spokesman have stated they have no intention of doing anything but slots.

Anyone who knows Fort Erie, knows that this development is never going to happen. It just makes no sense. The population cannot support it, and as far as being an international destination......gimme a break. In 5000 years, when Niagara Falls has eroded to be major rapids where the Niagara River and Lake Erie meet (Fort Erie), well then I can see this idea might have a chance to fly. I don't think Nordic is looking that long term:)

Again, my opinion: Nordic is desperately looking to sell Fort Erie at a much higher price than what it is worth. Hence, the invention of this ridiculous venture. Nordic could not afford to not have racing this year, because no racing equals no potential buyers. Once racing stops in Fort Erie, it is over for the oval, and over for the slots (which are still slightly profitable). Fort Erie will have a chance to survive if and when Nordic is finally out of the picture. They don't give a rats ass about horse racing. It is a necessary burden to them.

It will be interesting to read Sadinsky's report. I wonder if he'll address the fact that the reason the wonderful game of horse racing doesn't attract new players is because gamblers have no chance of winning in light of the ridiculously high track takeouts and the fact that organizations like WEG have lost hundreds of millions in potential betting to low takeout games like online poker, Betfair, and rebate shops, which are not going away.

Back to Fort Erie again. Purses are expected to remain the same, which means new owners will not be getting in the game, and horsemen will struggle just to pay their bills one more year.

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