NTRA to Meet With RCI on Wagering Security Plan

The National Thoroughbred Racing Association has formed a subcommittee to meet with representatives of the Association of Racing Commissioners International to examine a joint effort in forming a national Office of Wagering Integrity.

The NTRA board of directors, during a Jan. 27 meeting, named executive vice president Greg Avioli and board members Alan Foreman and Craig Fravel to the subcommittee, which will organize a meeting with RCI president Ed Martin and RCI directors.

RCI late last year form RCI Integrity Services, a for-profit arm that will maintain a wagering database and charge "a very small slice of handle" to users, Martin said. The program, which already has commitments from Scientific Games and Youbet.com, was formed as industry factions continued to fight among themselves over the issue of who should be in charge of pari-mutuel wagering security.

The NTRA, meanwhile, has developed a structure for the Office of Wagering Integrity. The concept, more than three years in the making, came about after the Breeders' Cup Ultra Pick 6 fraud of 2002 on the recommendation of Giuliani Partners, a consultant firm headed by former New York mayor Rudolph Giuliani.

Avioli said the objective is to work together with RCI, which continues to lobby for industry support. On Jan. 25, the National Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association said it supports RCI Integrity Services and urged racetracks and other wagering services to do the same.

Avioli said if the talks with RCI are successful, RCI officials may be invited to talk to the full NTRA board at its meeting in Florida in early March.

"The elements of the plan we put forward are very similar to the elements in the RCI plan," Avioli said. "Overall, we're trying to achieve the same goals with the same programs."

Martin couldn't be immediately reached for comment. But in comments made during the National HBPA winter convention in Tampa, Fla., he said the pari-mutuel industry "has been paralyzed by its own internal politics." Martin, who took over as head of RCI last year, said RCI quickly developed RCI Integrity Services because "people were getting frustrated."

Martin, in talking with HBPA representatives, suggested use of an independent monitor--and release of any related information--could be made part of horsemen's contracts with wagering providers. He indicated it's imperative the pari-mutuel industry have an independent monitor of wagering systems.

The Indiana Horse Racing Commission is considering an "Integrity '06" proposal that would require the state's two tracks to participate in RCI Integrity Services. There would be a one-time configuration fee of $35,000 and a per-year fee of $46,750 based on in-state handle.