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Government of Alberta announces funding plan for horse racing

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. Global News

CALGARY – The government has revealed its new funding plan for horse racing in Alberta.

Minister of Finance Joe Ceci was joined by Horse Racing Alberta’s board Chair Rick Lelacheur for the announcement at Century Downs Racetrack and Casino Saturday morning.

The Government of Alberta and Horse Racing Alberta (HRA) signed a new 10-year agreement, which will support rural communities and the agriculture sector.

The agreement replaces a previous 10-year funding arrangement expiring at the end of March, which supported the industry using a portion of slot machine revenues from Racing Entertainment Centres (RECs) located in a number of locations around the province.

The government said the new agreement is expected to support 1,600 Alberta jobs and result in economic benefits for rural communities and businesses.

“Horse racing is an important cultural and sporting industry in this province and this agreement builds a foundation for a long-term sustainable future. This renewed partnership with HRA supports rural Alberta and prevents loss of jobs and livelihood at a time of economic uncertainty,” Ceci said.

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The pair also planned to meet with industry stakeholders before the races began later in the afternoon.

“Alberta’s horse racing and breeding industry is optimistic the Government of Alberta has provided our industry with the means to successfully manage and develop the future of horse racing and breeding in the province. The length of the agreement is essential to the breeding industry, which plays an important role in the economic impact of horse racing in Alberta,” said Lelacheur.

Last month it was revealed that one of Alberta’s largest horse racing facilities is being shut down. When Northlands unveiled its plans for the future of Rexall Place, president and CEO Tim Reid confirmed horse racing won’t be held at the Edmonton site after this year. Northland’s Vision 2020 plan would see the horse racing track and casino transformed into an urban festival site.

READ MORE: Future of horse racing up in the air in Alberta

Horse Racing Alberta said that in the past, HRA, a private not-for-profit corporation, received flow-through funding from the Alberta Lottery Fund equivalent to 51.67 per cent of the net revenue from slot machines at RECs. Under the new agreement, the percentage will be gradually reduced over three years to 40 per cent: 50 per cent in 2016-17, 45 per cent in 2017-18 and 40 per cent beginning in 2018-19 and for the remainder of the 10 year term ending in 2026.

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No tax dollars are used within this funding arrangement.