Woodbine Entertainment CEO Jim Lawson recently took some time to discuss all things Woodbine, including how Canada’s racing leader could, and should, hit the ground running in regard to legalized sports wagering.
Lawson’s wide-ranging one-on-one has come via a piece by the Paulick Report. In it, Lawson tackles topics like the company’s live Standardbred racing moving to Woodbine Mohawk Park permanently, the possibility of a GO Transit station being built very close to Woodbine Racetrack, and how Woodbine Entertainment is a logical choice to play a role in legalized sports wagering.
In an excerpt from the one-on-one, which appears below, Lawson explains how Woodbine Entertainment is, essentially, already structured to offer single-game sports wagering.
Sports betting is a big challenge. It’s inevitable that it’s coming to Ontario. We feel that Woodbine can play a fundamental role with single game sports betting, given our structure, our backbone of infrastructure. We can run single game sports betting off our tote system, our infrastructure, our HPI (online wagering) system and our customers. We can run that next week, which reduces a lot of risk for anyone coming into sports betting in this province. We need to make a lot of noise to have the regulators and the politicians embrace the fact that horse racing can and should play a role with its infrastructure in sports betting.
I’m not talking about doing it for Woodbine, I’m talking about doing it to support the entire industry and all the people employed in it. We’re happy to do that. We’re effectively a non-profit corporation. We’re for-profit for tax purposes but we don’t have any shareholders.
Sports betting is going to be a big challenge going forward for us and we want to make sure that we have a role in it. The competition we all face in the industry, the reduced horse supply and the demographics of our ownership are big challenges. We certainly have them all here in spades right now. Looking down the horizon, we see sports betting coming and we’ve got to position ourselves to play a meaningful role.
(With files from the Paulick Report)