Study Shows Racing's Value in Canada, Ontario

The province of Ontario clearly is the financial driver for Canadian horse racing.

A recently released study shows horse racing has a $5.7 billion economic impact in Canada, and that racing in the province of Ontario accounts for 26% of total expenditures for the Canadian horse industry.

The study, called “The Economics of Horse Racing in 2010,” was performed by Strategic Equine Inc. of Ottawa, Ontario. Author Vel Evans has prepared numerous horse industry-related studies since 1997.

The report was released as the Ontario government is revamping its plan for gaming in the province by removing slot machines from some—and perhaps many—of the 17 racetracks in the province. The issue has blown up politically and spurred horse racing and breeding advocates into action.

The Canadian horse industry in 2010 contributed $19.6 billion to the Canadian economy, the economic impact study says. The racing sector trails only the competition sector.

The study claims the Canadian horse racing industry generates more than 47,000 full-time equivalent jobs—person years of employment. Ontario horse racing accounts for 34,800 of those jobs, the study says.

Racing in Ontario, through a 20% cut from slots revenue in its partnership with the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp., receives about $345 million a year. Racetracks and horsemen, in the form of purses, split the revenue 50-50.

“The multiplier effect of expenditures in horse racing can flow both ways—a significant decrease in purse rewards and/or racing opportunities could have a cascading negative effect on the economy as well,” the study suggests. “Purse rewards and opportunities to chase purse money are the key motivators for owner investment.”

The Evans study reports there are about 21,000 racehorse owners, and that 56% of them live in Ontario. Of the 27,310 races—Thoroughbred, Standardbred, and Quarter Horse—held in Canada in 2010, 68% were run in Ontario.