Incoming RCI Chairman Says Unification a Priority

New Jersey Racing Commission executive director Frank Zanzuccki, expected to officially take over as chairman of the Association of Racing Commissioners International during an April 3 board of directors meeting, said the unification of RCI and the North American Pari-Mutuel Regulators Association would be his top priority.

Usually, the incoming chairman makes remarks at the close of the RCI convention, which this year was combined with the NAPRA convention under as the Joint Conference of Racing Regulators. But Zanzuccki spoke during an April 2 awards luncheon a day before the before the board meeting.

"My first priority is to complete the transformation of RCI and NAPRA into a new organization," Zanzuccki said. "We're now at a critical stage in those negotiations. Every effort was made to address the critical concerns of each group. We agree on more than we disagree. No valid reason exists to prevent this unification from going forward."

NAPRA was formed in 1997 when several jurisdictions left RCI, and the number of defectors increased over the next few years. (Some racing commissions maintained membership in both organizations.) When Lonny Powell took over as president a few years ago, there was a renewed spirit of cooperation that led to the current negotiations on unification.

A task force was formed to study the possibility. The respective boards of directors could vote on the plan April 3.

NAPRA executive director Frank Lamb said the issue would be discussed, but there is no guarantee a vote would be taken. "No decisions have been made," said Lamb, who doesn't sit on the task force. "There really is no set procedure on how to move on this."

There are several scenarios in terms of what a new organization would look like, but details weren't available. There has been talk that, even if both boards vote and approve the plan, the process of unification would be ongoing.

The Joint Conference of Racing Regulators was the first ever. In remarks made the morning of April 2, Lamb said NAPRA and RCI already had agreed to hold another joint meeting in 2005.