Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Jockey club launches $350-M civil suit against province

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THE Manitoba Jockey Club is continuing its fight for survival, launching civil actions against the Selinger government, Finance Minister Stan Struthers and the Red River Exhibition Association for $350 million. The jockey club is also seeking another $15 million from the Red River Ex 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 the civil suit 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 it would redirect millions of dollars provided annually to Assiniboia Downs with legislation to break the VLT contract between Manitoba Lotteries and the jockey club, allowing it to remove the VLTs at the Downs and place them elsewhere. 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 things such as health care and education.

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.

Statements of defence have not been filed.

The jockey club has also asked the RCMP to investigate the actions of Struthers and the Red River Ex.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 24, 2013 A8

History

Updated on Tuesday, May 28, 2013 at 3:51 PM CDT: Tweaks background of case.

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