Legislation in New York Would Increase Penalties

Violators of New York's racing laws would face sharply higher fines under a new bill pending in the state Senate.

A measure proposed by Senator William Larkin, chairman of the Senate racing committee, would raise the fines that the state Racing and Wagering Board can impose from $5,000 to $20,000. The bill would affect both the thoroughbred and harness industries.

"The board needs the authority to impose heavier fines to ensure that all racing licensees adhere to the racing law," according to a memo from Larkin explaining the bill's need. "The current fines were first set at $5,000 53 years ago in 1953. In 1953, the United States had just ended the Korean War, Ike was sworn in as President, Joe DiMaggio had retired from baseball two years earlier, Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays had their rookie year two years earlier, and Gary Carter, a NY Mets catcher, was born one year later in 1954."

The memo states that a $5,000 fine in 1953 would be worth $38,500 today after accounting for inflation.

The bill's sponsor said the state's current $5,000 fine structure "has little deterrent" to discourage violations of the stateĆ¢?Ts racing provisions by those intent on breaking the law. "Further, with the advent of cell phones, video cameras and other telecommunications technology, banning a trainer from the race course grounds no longer effectively punishes or removes such a individual from participating in the conduct of horse racing or advising his or her employees on how to prepare a horse prior to a race. While the Board might be able to subpoena telephone records of a sanctioned individual to determine if such person was improperly in communication with his or her racing staff at the track, such an enforcement tactic is both expensive and impinges on individual civil liberties," the memo states.