SLEP going to bat for Hiawatha

From   The Observer

A local economic group is calling on Ontario’s premier to give Hiawatha Horse Park more time to create a business model for horse racing this year.

George Mallay, general manager with the Sarnia-Lambton Economic Partnership (SLEP), wrote Premier Kathleen Wynne this week, asking that Hiawatha be considered a “unique situation” and given time to develop a sustainable business model to ensure its future success.

The local racing venue used to rely on revenue from Ontario Lottery and Gaming Commission (OLG) slots on site, but those were shut down last year — resulting in more than 100 lost jobs.

Several other racing venues still rely on slots revenue, Mallay said.

“We look forward to receiving a positive and timely response to advance towards a solution to realize this year’s season,” he wrote, noting a cancelled race season would cause a ripple effect that would affect business at motels, restaurants, gas stations, entertainment venues, retailers, and agricultural service providers.

Fourteen other Ontario tracks have already struck deals for the 2013 race season, Mallay said, noting Hiawatha “has not been provided with the financial capacity to produce a schedule for the upcoming season.”

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