Updated on 02/01/2017 5:21PM

ARCI names three to Integrity Compliance Certification panel

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The Association of Racing Commissioners International has named three former racing regulators to its newly formed Integrity Compliance Certification panel, a committee that is expected to grade racing states on conformity to uniform recommendations of the organization, the ARCI announced on Wednesday.

The appointees are Bennett Liebman, a former New York racing regulator and expert on racing law; Steve Barham, the former executive director of the Oregon Racing Commission; and Allan Monat, a former jockey and former member of the Illinois Racing Board. In a release, the RCI said the three were selected because of their expertise in racing regulation and because each “is totally independent of any racing interest or regulatory agency.”

“These are three individuals with impeccable credentials who are not beholden to anybody,” said Ed Martin, the president of the RCI, who added that the panel members will not be paid.

The committee is expected to assess each racing state on its adoption and enforcement of the RCI’s model rules each year and assign a grade to “select integrity standards” of the regulations. The grades will include “compliant,” “substantially compliant,” and “noncompliant,” the RCI said.

The RCI is one of the leaders of an effort to take a state-by-state approach to align racing states under one set of rules, currently called the National Uniform Medication Program. That effort has led to movement by many state racing commissions to adopt elements of the program, although adoption has been uneven and slow in some cases.

Although racing organizations critical of the state-by-state approach have not attempted to directly impede progress, those organizations have also backed federal legislation that would replace the state-by-state system of racing regulation with a top-down system relying on a federally appointed overseer. That system would include the establishment of an independent board to assess whether states are complying with the overseer’s regulatory dictates, and if a state were deficient, it would face the suspension of federal interstate simulcasting rights.

Racing lobbyists are skeptical that the federal bill can pass in the next year, citing the reluctance of conservatives to expand federal oversight and the opposition of several powerful racing organizations.

Martin said the ratings of the integrity panel will be made public and that tracks, horsemen’s groups, and racing commissions could use the information about which states are rated as noncompliant when determining which simulcast signals to allow into the state. Under the 1978 federal Interstate Horseracing Act, horsemen have the right to approve simulcast signals, and commissions also have broad powers to deny the import of signals to their own jurisdictions.

“It’s an effort to use the existing authorities [under the Interstate Horseracing Act] and the business judgment of individual tracks,” Martin said. “It’s providing information so that people can use the hammers that are available to them in their existing tool boxes.”

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