Jim Lawson

Toronto-Area Lockdown Forces Woodbine Postponement

With a government-enforced 28-day lockdown set to take effect in the province of Ontario Thursday, Apr. 8 at 12:01 a.m., officials at Woodbine Racetrack announced late Wednesday that the planned opening of the 2021 meet would be delayed. Woodbine will continue to engage in dialogue with government officials and local health authorities in an effort to gain permission to operate a live meet during a lockdown situation in which they would try to begin operations once the stay-at-home order is lifted May 6. "This is very difficult news to share...

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COVID Lockdown Threatens Opening Day at Woodbine

The Ontario government has put in place new COVID-19 restrictions that will last a minium of four weeks and include a ban on horse racing. What is being called an "emergency brake" went into effect Saturday, putting the Apr. 17 opener at Woodbine in doubt. Its sister track, the harness facility Mohawk Park, was not able to run on Saturday and will be shut down indefinitely. There were 2,557 reported cases of COVID-19 Thursday in Ontario, the most in a single day since Jan. 22. While understanding the seriousness of...

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Due to COVID-19 Restrictions, Woodbine's Opening Day is in Jeopardy

With less than a month to go before the scheduled opener on Apr. 17, Woodbine is facing the distinct possibility that it will be unable to operate next month due to COVID-19 protocols in place in Ontario. Woodbine is in an area currently designated as a Grey Zone, where horse racing is among the activities that are not allowed. Last year, the track was forced to end its meet two weeks early because of the same restrictions now threatening the April opener. "I am really starting to get concerned," Woodbine...

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Canada's Parliament Passes Safe and Regulated Sports Betting Act

Canada's Private Members Bill C-218, which amends the Criminal Code of Conduct regarding sports betting, was passed in the House of Commons Wednesday, Feb. 17. It will now continue to the Justice Committee, the Senate, and the Governor-General. A similar bill, C-13, introduced by the federal government to legalize single-event sports wagering while including language to protect the horse racing industry, is scheduled for a second reading Friday. Both are widely expected to pass and pave the way for Canadians to participate in single sports betting, while also adopting language...

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2021 Woodbine Stakes Schedule Released

Woodbine Entertainment unveiled its stakes schedule for the 2021 Thoroughbred racing season at Woodbine Racetrack in Toronto, Ontario, set to open Apr. 17 (subject to the latest Ontario Government COVID-19 protocols). "Last year was obviously a challenging year for the industry due to COVID-19," said Jim Lawson, CEO, Woodbine Entertainment. "While Woodbine Entertainment and the horse racing industry continue to be impacted, we are hopeful that the pandemic in Ontario improves in the coming months, allowing businesses and industries to safely re-open, including our ability to start our 2021 meet...

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All-Sources Handle Down for Abbreviated Woodbine Meet

All-sources handle was down more than $50 million at $462,041,545.76 compared to $516,189,419.44 in 2019 for Woodbine's shortened 2020 Thoroughbred meet, which started late and concluded early due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The meet ran 96 days with the start being pushed back from Apr. 18 to June 6 and the end date moved up from Dec. 13 to Nov. 22. The abbreviated meet resulted in 35 less race days and 305 less races. "Like many businesses, the COVID-19 pandemic significantly impacted our business and the entire horse racing industry...

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Woodbine Meet Officially Over

While attempts were made to reach an agreement with the Ontario government to continue racing despite a mandatory 28-day lockdown of Toronto and its suburbs, Woodbine Entertainment announced Thursday that the track's 2020 Thoroughbred meet was officially over. "While I am extremely disappointed we are not able to complete the 2020 Thoroughbred meet, what we achieved this year in face of significant adversity is quite remarkable," said Jim Lawson, CEO, Woodbine Entertainment. "I have been around horse racing my entire life and I can proudly say that I have never...

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Woodbine Issues Statement on Sports Betting

Woodbine Entertainment issued the following statement Thursday: In response to the Federal Government introducing a Bill that proposes to legalize single event sports wagering in Canada, Woodbine Entertainment would like to congratulate the Government of Canada for considering the potential impacts to the horse racing industry. While the proposed Bill to Amend the Criminal Code would permit single event sports betting on most sports, Woodbine Entertainment is pleased that under the new proposed legislation, fixed odds wagering will not be permitted on horse racing. "On behalf of the entire horse...

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Woodbine CEO Says Sports Betting Bill Could Devastate Canadian Racing Industry

A bill that would legalize single-event sports wagering in Canada and is now being debated by members of Parliament in the Canadian House of Commons would have a disastrous impact on racing, warns Woodbine CEO Jim Lawson. The bill does not allow for the racetracks to be part of the sports betting universe and, perhaps even more worrisome, it would allow non-racing betting sites to take fixed-odds bets on racing without having to share any of the revenue with the industry. "This is a real threat to the industry and...

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Woodbine Releases Annual Corporate Responsibility Report

Woodbine Entertainment has released its 2019-20 Corporate Responsibility Report that summarizes the company's recent achievements during the April 1, 2019 to March 31, 2020 fiscal year. While the report focuses on this period, it also includes information on how Woodbine's operations were impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Titled Breaking New Ground, the 2019-20 Woodbine Corporate Responsibility Report focuses on the company's commitment to the communities in which it operates, philanthropy, industry leadership, property development and sustaining the horse racing industry. "While this year has been extremely difficult for so many,...

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Queen's Plate Generates Third-Highest Handle in History

Saturday's live program at Woodbine, featuring the coronavirus-delayed Queen's Plate, generated betting turnover of $14,532,678, nearly $3.5 million of that on the first leg of the Canadian Triple Crown alone. The handle ranks as the third-highest in the history of the race. "While this year's Queen's Plate might be remembered for not having fans in the stands, I would much rather it be remembered for the collective efforts of so many people that allowed this race to be run and its storied history continued to be written," said Jim Lawson,...

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Woodbine Social Media Accounts to Promote Work with At-Risk Youth

The charitable organization Trust 15 will be taking over Woodbine Entertainment's Twitter and Facebook accounts Wednesday to bring awareness, engagement and action to the work it does supporting at-risk youth  in the Rexdale community. Throughout the day, the organization will share interviews with several of the youth who are enrolled in the program, infographics to educate the public on the work it does, and information on how people can get involved. "Given what's happening in society with inequality, we've committed ourselves to continuously look for opportunities to help eradicate systemic...

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