Directors of the North American Pari-Mutuel Regulators Association and Racing Commissioners International announced Tuesday that they had voted unanimously Nov. 30 on a memorandum "which facilitates the merging of all NAPRA jurisdictions into RCI effectively forming one, strong, united association of racing and pari-mutuel regulators."
"The integrity challenges facing the racing and pari-mutuel industry are significant and regulators now stand united in addressing those challenges," said David Roberts, NAPRA chairman and director of the Florida Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering, in a statement released by the two organizations.
"This is an important first step in what we believe will be a proactive approach of the regulatory community working as one to tackle integrity problems in racing," said RCI dhairman Timothy "Ted" Connors, chairman of the New Hampshire Pari-Mutuel Commission.
The merger officially takes effect Jan. 1, 2006, but the two organizations announced they will begin functioning as one immediately.
RCI president Ed Martin also announced that Paul Bowlinger, the current NAPRA executive director, will join the RCI staff as executive vice president.
"NAPRA and RCI have worked effectively together for some time on model rules, the RMTC, and other projects. This marriage makes sense, not only from a practical standpoint, but in terms of eliminating duplication and marshalling the effective use of our resources in a coordinated way," said Bowlinger.
Martin said that NAPRA's merger into RCI "is consistent with the association's strategic plan to consolidate the various racing integrity programs and associations into a coordinated cohesive program that serves both the needs of regulators, industry participants, and the general public."
Members of both NAPRA and RCI are regulatory bodies for horse racing from different states. RCI was the first such organization and NAPRA was formed in 1997 by some former RCI members and others who were disenchanted with the then-leadership of RCI.
The original founding members were comprised of the following jurisdictions: Alabama (Birmingham) (Macon County), Arizona, Florida, Idaho, Kansas, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Saskatchewan, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Wyoming. Jurisdictions that joined later include Alberta Racing Corporation, British Columbia, Canadian Pari-Mutuel Agency, Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Kentucky, Manitoba, Maryland, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia
As RCI underwent management and leadership changes in recent years, however, some members left NAPRA and rejoined RCI.