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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Interstate Racing and Wagering Compact

by Remi Bellocq, National HBPA CEO

Much has been written in recent months about industry efforts to create a national interstate racing and wagering compact (IRWC). Essentially, a multi-state compact such as this would allow states – through their state regulatory bodies (i.e. racing commissions) and legislatures – to pass enabling legislation allowing them to become a member of the compact.

What would a compact do? If implemented, the IRWC would create a better mechanism for the creation of uniform rules than we have now. Click here to see the proposed process.

What a compact would NOT do would be to impose the will of a few renegade regulators on all racing states.

Any participating state would have the option to opt-in or out of the rule making process based on the rule being proposed and would never relinquish its ability to regulate within its state borders.

Most importantly, in cases where consensus could be reached on a proposed uniform rule, once passed by the compact, that rule would automatically go into effect in each participating compact state immediately, and as written, without having to go back through the state or local legislative process.

Of course, there are serious concerns of which horsemen must be aware. Would the IRWC give too much power to a handful or regulators? Would it steal horsemen’s ability to have any sort of veto power on a rule being forced upon them against their interests? Would the IRWC somehow give too much power to politically-appointed compact committee delegates with no practical knowledge of our sport?

In an effort to give both sides of this issue a fair hearing, the National HBPA will be presenting a forum on Thursday, July 22 beginning at 2:00p.m. during our 2010 summer convention to be held July 21-25 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Titled, “The Interstate Racing and Wagering Compact and Horsemen – To Be Feared or Embraced?”, this forum will focus on U.S. racing’s rule-making system and how it needs to be repaired. It will also focus on how horsemen could work toward a more structured and reliable rule-making process that’s goal is sensible uniformity through consensus.

Scheduled to participate thus far are:

Moderator - Bob Elliston, President & CEO Turfway Park; Chairman, NTRA Board of Directors
Rick Goodell, Assistant Counsel, NYRSRWB; Chair IRWC Steering Committee
Rick Masters, Special Counsel for Interstate Compacts, The Council of State Governments
Ed Martin, President & CEO, Racing Commissioners International
Alex Waldrop, President & CEO, NTRA
Frank Petramalo, Executive Director, Virginia HBPA
Bill Walmsley, President, Arkansas HBPA

While the National HBPA Board of Directors has not taken a position on a possible future IRWC at this time, it is nonetheless important that we remain part of the process. With the threat of federal regulatory intervention, the time may come when an initiative like the IRWC is all that stands between our current regulatory system and one run by Washington, D.C.

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