Montreal racetrack closed under bankruptcy protection
Horse racing tracks in Gatineau, Trois-Rivières and Quebec City allowed to remain open
Last Updated: Friday, June 27, 2008 | 9:57 AM ET Comments1Recommend0
The company that owns Quebec's four horse racing tracks has been placed under bankruptcy protection, resulting in the immediate closure of the Hippodrome de Montréal, formerly known as Blue Bonnets Raceway.
Under the bankruptcy agreement, the tracks in Gatineau, Trois-Rivières and Quebec City will be allowed to continue operating while an effort is made to restructure the company. In 2005, the racetracks were sold by the province to Attractions Hippiques, owned by Senator Paul Massicotte.
The government wanted to get out of a business that was costing it $25 million a year.
Under the purchase agreement, the company was guaranteed 22 per cent of revenues earned at Loto-Québec gaming rooms built adjacent to the hippodromes.
Benoit Gingues is a partner with RSM Richter, the firm appointed to oversee the restructuring of the company while under bankruptcy protection. "Revenues were 30 per cent of what had been expected," Gingues said Thursday.
The company was also counting on additional profits from a new gaming room that would be built under a plan to move Montreal's hippodrome to the city's North Shore. "That project is basically not happening right now," Gingues said.
The court has given the company 30 days to present a new plan, he said.
"And during that restructuring, we're going to have to find a long-term solution for this industry.
"There is a lot of jobs involved. At Attractions Hippiques there are 600 employees, and that isn't counting all the people directly or indirectly associated to the horse racing industry," Gingues said.
Finance Minister Monique Jérôme-Forget is in Europe, but a spokesperson in her office said the minister is saddened by the news that the tracks are in financial trouble.
The spokesperson said, however, that the government is not prepared to invest any taxpayers' money in an industry that has been in decline for some time.
Source : CBC.ca