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Province introduces bill to change VLT agreement with jockey club

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The Selinger government is moving ahead with reducing what it calls public subsidies for horse racing.

Details of the province’s intentions are outlined in the province’s budget and implementation and tax statutes act (BITSA), introduced today.

The budget-implementation bill confirms the province wants to terminate the existing VLT agreement, made April 30, 2011, between the Manitoba Jockey Club and Manitoba Lotteries, effective 60 days after the bill gets royal assent.

The jockey club has challenged the Selinger government's plan to cut $5 million in funding the club receives through VLT revenues and money distributed by the Horse Racing Commission from a levy on every bet made at the track.

The money would be redirected to the government and used to support services and programs the province considers "to be in the public interest."

Under the bill, the jockey club would keep its 140 VLTs, but not keep 100 per cent of the revenue they generate.

The termination of the VLT site-holder agreement with the jockey club has been brewing since the beginning of the year and an ongoing court battle between the club and the province.

The jockey club recently launched a lawsuit against the government, Finance Minister Stan Struthers and the Red River Exhibition for $350 million.

The jockey club alleges 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.

 

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