In less than a week, Woolwich Township intends to announce whether they will roll out the welcome mat for an OLG casino. I would imagine, by now, that the councillors have decided their vote but, as per all government protocols, the proper process must be implemented so we’ll wait until March 5th for the formal announcement.
As the formal announcement approaches, I’ve been following the local television coverage of the effects this potential casino will have on Grand River Raceway, horse people and Centre-Wellington Township. I agree that the horse people, the track and Centre-Wellington Township are going to feel the great financial burden that is being created as a result of this potential casino. But as I look at horseracing, specifically the sustainability of horseracing, I must look at how horseracing is funded. It used to be primarily funded by the betting on the activity but as technology changed, bettors had more and more options to spend their betting dollars. Time marches on folks. My hair has gone from brown to gray and I’m working harder at hiding my wrinkles and I am forced to keep up with technology or get left behind. That’s also happening to horseracing – especially to the folks betting on horseracing. With all the new options for wasting, ‘er I mean for spending their betting dollars, less people are interested in the traditional horse-racing betting forum, i.e. there is less demand for the product. And what happens when there is no longer a demand for the product? I think we can see the answer in the midst of these changes.
My heart really goes out to the young people involved in this industry, many of them being second or third generation horse people. I can see and feel their passion but unfortunately these young people have entered an industry that is failing, primarily due to lack of demand for their product. I’ve cautioned many young people on getting into these ‘dying’ industries, including sectors of agriculture involving food-production. The one difference between these two industries is that people have to eat, so food-production is still in demand but as technology continues to change, food may be created scientifically in lab environments rather than in fields. If this happens, eventually the demand for traditional crop farmers will fade as well. The almighty dollar will dictate which direction to go.
Change continues all around us. Even Canada Revenue doesn’t want paper copies of tax returns anymore, banks don’t provide paper monthly statements to customers anymore, libraries are providing ‘e-books’ rather than the paper version, desk-top computers are rare, and does anyone know what a radio or record-player is anymore? Horseracing needs to either find a way of being current and attracting customers to support and sustain their industry or become a memory, a hobby or a vintage nostalgic activity.