Two regulators' associations have officially decided to hold a joint convention in 2004 to discuss issues of mutual concern and perhaps combine some committees, though both will continue to have separate business meetings under organization bylaws.
The North American Pari-Mutuel Regulators Association and the Association of Racing Commissioners International plan to meet next April in New Orleans, La. In a release dated May 5, NAPRA said its board of directors voted to hold its convention in conjunction with the RCI convention.
"It's something we're doing for the industry so we're not having two separate conferences covering the same topics," NAPRA executive director Frank Lamb said. "At our conferences this year, we both had some of the same speakers. We think it would be a lot better to have one conference to cover all the issues."
Panels, guest speakers, and certain committee meetings will be offered jointly. NAPRA and RCI already have a joint model rules committee, but others that cover medication and stewards' accreditation, for instance, are fair game.
"It's obviously going to benefit regulators in the industry on a number of fronts," RCI president Lonny Powell said. "In April 2002, we first talked about the idea and made the invitation to NAPRA, and now we're awfully happy to see things progressing."
NAPRA president Gene Olander, chairman of the Kansas Racing and Gaming Commission, said NAPRA proposed the joint conference be held in a non-member jurisdiction, but RCI remained committed to New Orleans. "If this works out, perhaps the next one can be at a site of our choosing," Olander said.
Lamb and Powell said several dates in April are being considered for the meeting.
"We know it will be beneficial, but it's probably not possible to quantify what all of those benefits will be," Powell said. "It's significant and it's historic."
The Thoroughbred Racing Associations and Harness Tracks of America held a similar joint conference in Florida in March. There was a joint board meeting as well as separate board meetings.
NAPRA and RCI held conventions in April of this year. NAPRA will conduct its fall convention in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Sept. 20-23. Lamb said all regulators and industry representatives are invited for the meeting, which he said would offer a chance to plan for the joint conference in 2004.
NAPRA was founded in 1997 after jurisdictions unhappy with RCI left the organization. (Powell wasn't president of RCI at the time.) Little by little, other racing commissions left RCI to join NAPRA, though some hold memberships in both associations.