The Regulation of Horse Racing in Ontario

The sport of horse racing has been part of Ontario’s history for hundreds of years, with various venues throughout the province. For decades, pari-mutuel betting on horse racing was the only form of legalized gambling in Canada. 

To maintain the integrity of racing and to protect the public interest, in 1950 the Government of Ontario established the Ontario Racing Commission (ORC).  The purpose of this Crown agency was to govern, direct, control and regulate the horseracing industry in Ontario in all its forms.

Over the course of its proud history, the ORC became known as a world-class regulator and developer of best practices. It had a long established record of its efforts to advance the welfare of the racehorse, and was one of the first North American racing jurisdictions to mandate mandatory reporting of racehorse deaths.

The ORC also gained international recognition for its leadership role in developing new approaches to proactive investigation and regulation practices.  Most significantly, it was an organization that proactively responded to industry needs and the changes affecting the regulation of horse racing.

In 2015, the Government of Ontario introduced legislation – the Horse Racing Licence Act - that moved to integrate horse racing into the province’s gaming strategy. This included the transfer of the regulatory responsibilities for horse racing from the ORC to the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO).

The result of the merger is that the oversight of horse racing continues.  Through an integrated regulatory model, using best practices from the AGCO and the long history and traditions of the ORC, the welfare of the animal, safety of the participant, and protection of the public interest will be maintained.