By: Tom LaMarra
The West Virginia Racing Commission is continuing its preparations for the 2018 legislative session, including a bill that would authorize the state to join a proposed interstate compact that would deal with equine medication and drug testing standards.
The WVRC earlier this year issued its support for the compact, which is designed to expedite adoption of uniform medication rules in the Mid-Atlantic region. The compact, however, would be open to any state that chooses to adopt enabling legislation.
During the commission’s Nov. 28 meeting, Kelli Talbott, Senior Deputy Attorney General for the WVRC, said state government officials must review the language contained in the compact legislation. The Delaware Thoroughbred Racing Commission earlier in November issued its support for the compact.
The Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, which led adoption of the National Uniform Medication Program in Mid-Atlantic racing jurisdictions, is actively working on state-by-state adoption of the compact.
“Some folks in our Mid-Atlantic group have taken the lead on the legislation,” Talbott said. “We’ve had conference calls with other states to iron out any questions the different states had, and we were given a final product on which everyone agreed. The idea is that each state will pursue identical legislation, and all the states are on board to pursue this.”
Talbott said organizations on the national level have been involved in the effort, and that the Association of Racing Commissioners International is expected to discuss the compact plan at its early-December meeting in Tucson, Ariz.
The compact is limited to its stated purposes. Though all Mid-Atlantic jurisdictions have adopted uniform medication rules, the time frame has varied; in West Virginia, for instance, the racing commission may have to wait a year before the legislature approves regulations.
WVRC Executive Director Joe Moore said other legislative proposals for the 2018 session deal with putting licensees on a fiscal-year schedule, giving the commission a share of export simulcast revenue, and granting the commission more latitude when it comes to approving racing dates each year.
Under current statute, West Virginia Thoroughbred tracks are required to request a specific number of dates: 220 at Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races and 210 at Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack & Resort. It can take months for the WVRC to approve any reduction in dates, which has been the case for several years.
On Nov. 28 the commission granted Charles Town approval for 220 programs for 2018, but the next agenda item was a request by Charles Town to race 162 programs. The commission now has to accept public comments on the request and, if necessary, schedule a meeting to hear any objections.
It was noted the Charles Town Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association submitted a letter approving the reduction in days. The horsemen’s group had done the same for this year’s racing schedule, which is similar to the 2018 request.
Meanwhile, Mountaineer was approved for 210 racing programs—it raced 150 this year after a reduction was approved by the commission—but a request for fewer programs wasn’t on the Nov. 28 agenda.