The Maryland Racing Commission has become the fourth regulatory agency to rejoin the Association of Racing Commissioners International in the past year.
The Maryland Racing Commission, which left RCI in the late 1990s to join the newly formed North American Pari-Mutuel Regulators Association, will rejoin effective Jan. 1, 2005. Other organizations that have rejoined RCI in the past 12 months are the West Virginia Racing Commission, Virginia Racing Commission, and New York State Racing and Wagering Board.
In a prepared statement, Maryland Racing Commission executive director Mike Hopkins said the panel wants to move ahead with the "common goal of the standardization of regulatory oversight in North America, and continue to participate and foster the efforts being made in the realm of uniform drug testing and medication issues."
Hopkins was a member of a joint committee of RCI and NAPRA that studied a merger of the two organizations. The plan was believed to have much support but it fell apart during the first joint convention of the two organizations in New Orleans earlier this year. Two of the jurisdictions with representatives on the merger committee--Maryland and Virginia--have rejoined RCI.
"I hope it's a trend," RCI president Lonny Powell said Sept. 24. "It seems to be beyond a coincidence. Our hope is, based on what we've heard, more new members will be coming on board in the months ahead."
It appears the chances of a merger went from good to very bad in New Orleans. NAPRA recently advertised for an executive director, and RCI already has announced it will hold its annual conference next spring in Lexington.
RCI reports that by total jurisdictions it now represents 72% of North American handle and 67% of licenses issued.