Official: Industry Security Lacking

Pari-mutuel security and regulation must be stepped up, an official said Jan. 4.

The head of a national organization of regulators told legislators Jan. 4 issues related to pari-mutuel integrity and security need “serious attention,” and alleged available resources are being neglected.

Ed Martin, president of the Association of Racing Commissioners, addressed the National Council of Legislators from Gaming States at its winter meeting in Scottsdale, Ariz. The group of lawmakers meets at least twice a year for updates on gambling throughout the United States.

Recent incidents of past-posting--making bets on races after “off” time--at Fair Grounds and Aqueduct have again raised red flags for the pari-mutuel industry. Martin said some regulators with jurisdiction in the Fair Grounds incident weren’t aware of the past-posting for at least a week.

Martin said the industry needs a national monitoring system, something RCI initiated a few years ago. But its progress has been caught up in pari-mutuel politics and financial constraints.

Martin suggested the National Racing Compact, formed in 1990s to facilitate licensing of owners, trainers, jockeys, and drivers, can provide a mechanism for reviewing secondary pari-mutuel operations, particularly those based offshore. He said no single commission has the resources to handle such investigations alone.

A company called Gaming Laboratories International, which handles casino-related security programs, has agreed to partner with RCI to do a study in the pari-mutuel industry, Martin said.

Martin’s contention the industry can’t properly deal with security and investigation didn’t sit well with Bill Fasy, chief operating officer of Delaware Park. The track is a member of the Thoroughbred Racing Associations, which oversees the Thoroughbred Racing Protective Bureau.

The TRPB is headed by a former FBI investigator.

Fasy, who attended the NCLGS conference, asked Martin if he was saying the TRPB isn’t qualified, and Martin said individuals associated with the group don’t have “technical expertise.”

“They have the technical expertise that has uncovered things, and they have been on the leading edge of investigations (in the pari-mutuel industry),” Fasy said.

Martin said the key is independence; the TRPB is paid for by member racetracks. “The regulatory scheme does need to be beefed up independently by state regulators,” he said. “This area needs serious attention.”

NCLGS is pro-states’ rights, and Martin, whose organization has members in the U.S., Canada, and other countries, told legislators regulation of racing--though it needs to be bolstered--should lie with the states.

“The federal regulation of racing is something not supported by RCI,” he said.

There has been behind-the-scenes talk of possible federal intervention in certain aspects of pari-mutuel racing but no solid push--as yet--for legislation. As a whole, the pari-mutuel industry is wary if not fearful of involvement by the federal government.