A year-long legal battle between the Manitoba Jockey Club (MJC) and the provincial government over funding of live Thoroughbred racing at Assiniboia Downs has come to an end. In a joint statement on April 23rd, it was announced that the parties have entered a 12-year deal, which will see the MJC continue to operate the track with 140 video lottery terminals (VLTs) on site. The agreement ensures that live racing will continue at the track, and saves 500 jobs.
Previously, 80% of the revenue from VLTs went to the MJC and 20% to the government. This split will be reversed moving forward, as per the province’s standard VLT siteholder agreement through the Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries Corporation. As such, it is estimated that the MJC will receive $950,000 for the 2014/2015 racing season, compared to the $6.36 million received in 2013/2014.
To assist with this transition, the government has agreed to provide grants over the next 10 years, which will taper off until the final two years of the agreement. At which time, the MJC will only receive 20% of the VLT revenue generated at the track.
The grants will be allocated as follows:
– Years 1 to 4: $5.40 million
– Years 5 & 6: $5.25 million
– Years 7 & 8: $5 million
– Year 9: $4 million
– Year 10: $3 million
In light of the agreement, the MJC is able to move forward with plans announced last December to partner with the Peguis First Nation to build a casino at Assiniboia Downs. This development will create additional revenue streams for the track, offer employment opportunities and boost tourism in the area.
Assiniboia Downs CEO Darren Dunn, said: “The government of Manitoba and the Manitoba Jockey Club have reached a comprehensive agreement that resolves all matters outstanding between them regarding the continuation of live horse racing at Assiniboia Downs.
“This agreement recognizes that the Manitoba Jockey Club has entered into a partnership with Peguis First Nation, which in the long run will enhance revenue streams at Assiniboia Downs. With today’s agreement, the government is providing a bridge to MJC that intends to get it into a position where it will be able to enjoy the benefits of those enhanced revenue streams while maintaining sustainability for horse racing in the interim.
“With this agreement having been reached, the Manitoba Jockey Club will immediately discontinue all of its outstanding litigation against the government, its ministers and all government related entities and individuals. The government and Manitoba Jockey Club are pleased that live horse racing will continue uninterrupted at Assiniboia Downs and a new partnership between MJC and Peguis First Nation will allow for a stable and sustainable horse racing industry in Manitoba for years to come.”