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Revenue loss prompts Ontario horse-racing track operator to cut jobs

Slot machines pictured in a file photo. Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. is permanently shutting down slot machine operations at racetracks in three border cities.

JOHN LEHMANN/The Globe and Mail/JOHN LEHMANN/The Globe and Mail

Ontario's horse-racing track operator says it's being forced to slash hundreds of positions to keep pace with a reduction in revenue.

Woodbine Entertainment Group says it's cutting 109 salaried jobs at its Woodbine and Mohawk Racetracks.

The company says it is also cutting "a significant number" of hourly jobs, converting many positions to seasonal and reducing the amount of hourly work.

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Woodbine says the cuts come as a result of a drop in the company's sales and a provincial decision to no longer share some slot machine revenue with the track.

The Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. has about 3,000 slot machines at Woodbine and they will remain in place until at least 2016 under a new lease agreement signed with the OLG earlier this year.

Woodbine says it has signed transitional agreements with the province and the OLG, but says income from those deals can't make up the loss of the share of slot machine revenue it was receiving.

"Today is a very difficult day for Woodbine Entertainment Group," Woodbine chief executive Nick Eaves said in a statement.

"The people we are saying goodbye to have helped build WEG into a world-class horse-racing and entertainment company."

Woodbine said it has been forced to take additional steps to contend with the revenue loss, including a reduced schedule of horse races for the coming year.

In addition, said Woodbine, internal operations are being downsized or amalgamated to align with these new financial realities.

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