Government approval to move forward on the regulatory merger of the Ontario Racing Commission (ORC) and the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO), first announced in the spring, has now been granted. As a result, several changes are taking place at the Ontario Racing Commission effective today.

First, Steve Lehman, who has been with the ORC since 2008, and serving as CEO and Executive Director for the last two years, has accepted a position with the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario as Executive Advisor, Audit and Financial Investigations. The AGCO’s regulatory approach has been evolving over the last number of years and includes an increased focus on audit activities. Steve’s expertise in this area will be critical in moving these initiatives forward. While Steve is transitioning to his new role at the AGCO over the summer, he will continue to lead the creation of the “One Standardbred Horsepeoples’ Association” as set out in the Horse Racing Transition Panel report.

On behalf of the Board of the ORC, I would like to thank Steve for his service, dedication and leadership over the last eight years and wish him well in this new endeavor.

The Board of the Ontario Racing Commission would also like to announce that, effective today, Jean Major has been appointed as CEO and Executive Director of the ORC. He also continues to act as CEO and Registrar of the AGCO. This move will provide consistent leadership across both the ORC and AGCO while we transition to a single agency, intended to take effect April 1, 2016 subject to legislative approval.

“The merger of our two agencies confirms the government’s commitment to horse racing and is in keeping with the industry’s desire to move the province’s gaming strategy forward,” said ORC Chair Elmer Buchanan. “It further demonstrates the government’s commitment to supporting a sustainable horse racing industry in Ontario.”

“The oversight of horse racing and the protection of the public interest will continue,” said Buchanan. “We will also continue to provide the same high standard of regulation the industry both expects and demands.” He pointed out that Major has a strong background in and knowledge of horse racing, having served as CEO of the ORC from 1995 to 2004 prior to joining the AGCO.

The merger of ORC/AGCO operations will be phased in gradually over the next several months. During this time it will be business as usual for racing industry participants – applicants will continue to go to their regular licensing office and ORC staff will continue to regulate racing. If you have any questions about how these changes affect you, or on any operational issues, please contact Brent Stone, Manager of Racing or Rob McKinney, Deputy Director, Racing Operations at 416-213-0520. Media inquiries can be directed to Ray Kahnert at 416-213-0520.