AGCO's Horse Racing Regulatory Functions

The core horse racing regulatory functions of the AGCO are: 

1. Officiate at all races 

The AGCO provides three officials (judges or stewards) to supervise races conducted at Ontario’s 15 licensed racetracks. These officials are responsible for the enforcement of the Rules of Racing. Officials conduct investigations into alleged rule violations, fine/suspend licensees for violations and conduct reviews of regulatory matters as required. 

2. Compliance

This function, performed by investigators and/or compliance officers, includes:

  • Administration of the human drug-testing and breathalyzer program;
  • Searches for prohibited items (drugs/syringes);
  • Enforcement of racetrack security standards.

3. Investigations

The AGCO’s Investigation and Enforcement Bureau is responsible for:

  • Investigations of the more serious racing violations such as fraud and hidden ownerships;
  • Due diligence investigations on licence applicants or licensees;
  • Investigations into illegal gambling activities;
  • Investigations of horse abuse, race fixing or other racing and rule infractions, well as investigating horse deaths;
  • Monitoring and enforcing equine medication control programs;
  • Liaison between the AGCO, the police community and other civilian regulatory bodies in and out of Ontario;
  • Enforcement of Judges/Stewards’ orders and rulings.  

4. Licensing 

The AGCO issues over 15,000 licences to individuals and businesses involved in the horse racing industry. A large part of the licensing function is performed at each track facility and licensing agents are available during live racing for the convenience of licensees. The licensing process includes applications from new racetrack owners, teletheatre locations and individuals involved in the industry (i.e. grooms, trainers, etc.). 

5. Regulation of Racetracks 

In the public interest, the AGCO annually licenses racetracks and reviews racetrack business plans, backstretch improvement and fire safety plans and health and safety improvements as part of this process.

The AGCO also has the authority to approve the race dates applied for by racetracks.

Other Horse Racing Business

With the passage of The Horse Racing Licence Act (HRLA), some functions that had been managed by the Ontario Racing Commission were transferred to other organizations.
Appeals of rulings made by Judges and Stewards under the Rules of Racing 2016 will now be heard by the Horse Racing Appeal Panel (HRAP). For more information:
Horse Racing Appeal Panel

Appeals of decisions of the Registrar under the HRLA related to licensing will now be heard by the License Appeal Tribunal (LAT). For more information:

Licence Appeal Tribunal

Industry Support

Industry support programs – such as the Horse Improvement Program (HIP) – are now managed by the Ontario Racing Association (OR).

For more information:

Ontario Racing Association

Responsibility for the Enhanced HIP program is under the supervision of Horse Racing Transition Branch, OMAFRA

Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs

Administration of the Transfer Payment Agreements (TPAs) that the Ontario government has with racetracks in the province is now managed by OLG. 

For more information:

Horse racing OLG