The provincial government has announced effective 2013 it will remove the tax on parimutuel betting in Saskatchewan.
The decision may allow some horse racing to survive in the year ahead.
The industry, both standardbred and thoroughbred racing, had looked to be doomed after the province announced earlier this year it would not be making grants to tracks after 2012.
The grants in 2012 meant $320,000 came to the Yorkton Exhibition Association (YEA) to operate 16 days of standardbred racing at Cornerstone Raceway this year. A portion of the money went to track operations, and the rest to purses.
The lion’s share of government grants went to Marquis Downs in Saskatoon for thoroughbred racing at $1.1 million.
The announced tax rebate, money the government would not even receive if the industry failed, will mean approximately $850,000 to Saskatoon racing based on taxes on both live racing and on simulcast races Prairieland Park (which holds the races) operate.
Shaun Morin, manager of the YEA, says the announcement will mean $8-10,000 to local racing, noting they operate only half the days of Saskatoon, and do not have off-track simulcast betting.
“It’s a start,” he said, then admitted it is a long way short of the $320,000 received this year.
Morin said simulcast betting would help, but the investment in equipment makes it prohibitive.
So they will look at options.
“We’ve got to talk to Marquis Downs and see if we can come up with a plan,” he said, adding he does see potential for simulcast betting locally with a race culture having been fostered with live racing the last few years. He said it might be possible to arrange a satellite location with Saskatoon and received a portion of the revenues.
That said the approximated $10,000 tax rebate will not assure racing locally.
“It’s not even a day of racing,” noted Morin, but he takes the announcement as a positive just the same. “Now there is an opening. They are re-looking at it.”
Morin said the YEA needs to sit down with the government and look at how to save racing here.
“We have to look at some other options for them. I’m not sure what those are yet, but we’re not going to give up,” he said.