The Manitoba Jockey Club is continuing its fight for survival, launching civil actions today against the Selinger government, Finance Minister Stan Struthers and the Red River Exhibition for $350 million.
The jockey club is also seeking another $15 million from the Red River Exhibition Association and its CEO Garth Rogerson.
The lawsuit follows a successful court move earlier this month to get an injunction ordering the province to release funds to Assiniboia Downs raised through a levy on wagering at the track. However, the court dismissed a request to block the province from passing a law directing Manitoba Lotteries Corporation to break its VLT contract with the jockey club.
Jockey club lawyer Jeff Rath said today’s legal action was taken on the advice of Justice Robert Dewar — who issued the order and injunction against the province — to take civil action against the province if it believed the province was interfering with the Lotteries contract.
The provincial government announced in its budget speech last month that it would redirect millions of dollars provided annually to Assiniboia Downs with legislation to break the VLT contract between Manitoba Lotteries Corporation and the Jockey Club, removing the VLTs at Assiniboia Downs. The government also plans to amend existing legislation that would effectively redirect several million dollars collected annually on wagering at the track and use it for other programs, like health care and education.
The Jockey Club alleges that Finance Minister Stan Struthers is conspiring with the Red River Ex to drive the jockey club into bankruptcy, allowing the Ex to take over Assiniboia Downs.
The allegations have not been proven in court. Statements of defence have not been filed. Court dates have not been set.
The jockey club has also asked the RCMP to investigate the actions of Struthers and the Red River Exhibition Association.