Canada's Fort Erie racetrack closing

June 7, 2012 at 10:51 AM

FORT ERIE, Ontario, June 7 (UPI) -- Canada's 115-year-old Fort Erie racetrack in Ontario is closing because of the loss of slot machine revenue, board members said.

The track will be shuttered Dec. 31 after a provincial overhaul of casino and slot allocations in April that cut out Fort Erie, leading to a $6 million loss for racing purses, the St. Catharines Standard reported.

Jim Thibert, chief executive officer of the racing consortium board, said it was a painful but unavoidable decision with major financial loss ramifications.

"It's a huge blow," he told the Standard. "We've done the economic impact around the track, and you're looking at $210 [million] to $220 million a year."

When the slot machines were shut down, nearly 300 people were laid off. Thibert said 240 more inside workers will lose their jobs when racing ends, along with "500 or 600 horse staff" in the stable and support side.

The track, which is at the border with Buffalo, N.Y., has 32 major event days and 80 race days planned this season.

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