Edited press releaseThe North American Pari-Mutuel Regulators Association and the Association of Racing Commissioners International have set Jan. 1, 2006 as the official date of a merger between the two organizations, though they are now functioning as one, according to a Dec. 6 release.The boards of directors of NAPRA and RCI voted unanimously Nov. 30 to adopt a memorandum that facilitates the merger of all NAPRA jurisdictions into RCI. The two organizations attempted to merge in 2004, but the effort failed."The integrity challenges facing the racing and pari-mutuel industry are significant, and regulators now stand united in addressing those challenges," David Roberts, NAPRA chairman and director of the Florida Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering, said in a release."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 chairman Timothy "Ted" Connors, chairman of the New Hampshire Pari-Mutuel Commission.RCI president Ed Martin, who took over earlier this year when Lonny Powell left to take a job with Youbet.com, also announced that Paul Bowlinger, the current NAPRA executive director, would join the RCI staff as executive vice president."NAPRA and RCI have worked effectively together for some time on model rules, the (Racing Medication and Testing Consortium), and other projects," Bowlinger said in the joint release. "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 Martin: "We are ecstatic that our colleagues from NAPRA are merging in to RCI. Together we are in a stronger position to address the integrity challenges new technology and the global dissemination of the North American racing product present to this industry."