Trot Insider is at Ontario Superior Court today (Friday, Sept. 14) in Brampton covering Day 5 of the proceedings in regard to the civil lawsuit that a group of Ontario Standardbred breeders have filed against the Province of Ontario and the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation over the cancellation of the former Slots at Racetracks Program.
Monday (Sept. 10) marked the first day of court hearings in the civil suit (‘Seelster Farms Inc. v Her Majesty The Queen In Right Of Ontario’) which is taking place at the A. Grenville and William Davis Courthouse, located at 7755 Hurontario St. in Brampton, Ont.
One of the Plaintiffs’ lawyers, Jonathan C. Lisus, of Lax O’Sullivan Lisus Gottlieb LLP, concluded presenting the Plaintiffs’ Factum as part of their Motion for Summary Judgment on Thursday. The province began its side of the defense on Thursday afternoon.
To view the recaps of Trot Insider’s ongoing coverage, please utilize the corresponding links which appear below.
Friday’s proceedings got underway at 10:00 a.m. Trot Insider‘s recap of the Day 5 proceedings appears below.
The defense continued to maintain its assertion that the slots-at-racetracks program was in fact a government support program that involved public funds.
Referring back to the Sadinsky Report, the defense cited Sadinsky’s reference to SARP as “public funds” with both the defense for the province and OLG stating that this is also evident in legislation. Further, terminology used by Sadinsky calls the SARP program a “subsidy” and notes that the siteholder agreements had a 12-month clause for unilateral termination. This evidence would go against the plaintiff’s claims of foreseeability.
The defense then referenced lobbying efforts noted in SBOA meeting minutes that would appear to indicate the plaintiffs’ understanding that there was no guaranteed percentage of revenue from SARP and thus could not be a contractual entitlement. Further meeting minutes indicate a rollover of siteholder agreements, referring to government policies. Again, the defense stated the evidence points to a lack of entitlement with respect to the plaintiffs.
The references to the MOU between government and the Ontario Racing Commission raised by the plaintiffs was termed a “red herring” by the defense as the ORC’s role was as a regulator of racing, not gaming, and notes that the ORC was neither signatory to the letter of intent nor the siteholder agreements. Further, the defense stated that SARP was not ORC policy, but OLG policy.
Discussion then shifted to internal government documents from 1998 before the launch of the slots-at-racetracks program. The defense claimed that the reduction of pari-mutuel tax at the time was, economically, a subsidy. This program, enacted by the government prior, would indicate that SARP was a government support program from its inception. A script from a speech to be delivered by Tim Hudak at the opening of the slots at Georgian Downs also refer to SARP as a “government program” to further illustrate how it has always been considered as policy and support…and government support programs can and do change.