TORONTO, May 2 (UPI) -- The coming loss of $345 million in annual provincial funding to Ontario's horse racing industry is threatening thousands of horses, industry officials say.
The Liberal provincial government announced it was cutting off racing's share of proceeds from slot machine revenues collected at the province's 17 racetracks beginning March 31, 2013, the QMI Agency reported.
The government cut in racetracks in 1996 as a bid to expand casino gambling at racetracks, and by 2009, the extra funding allowed tracks to more than double purses. That attracted better horses, trainers and jockeys, the National Post said.
With the loss of funding less than a year away, the Ontario Horse Racing and Breeding Association told QMI some horse owners are considering euthanizing their animals that won't be economically viable to race.
Association President Sue Leslie said it costs about $10,000 a year to keep a mare or foal, but that quadruples when a horse starts racing.
"People are absolutely frightened to death right now," Leslie told QMI.
The government's recent budget is redirecting the horse racing funds into general revenue to address its deficit.