05/27/2014 1:16PM

More transparency sought from New York stewards


New York stewards may soon be required to issue weekly reports detailing how they voted and whom they interviewed during the rulings process under a directive being developed by the New York State Gaming Commission, the director of the commission’s racing division said Tuesday during a commission meeting.

Ron Ochrym, the racing division director, said the new directive was still in the development process but that it likely would be ready for presentation to the commission for approval by late this summer. Ochrym also said the weekly reports may be expanded to include the names of those horses who were selected for drug tests during the previous week of racing, among additional items.

The directive grew out of a call for the stewards to be more transparent as to how they arrive at decisions affecting the outcome of a race, in part because of criticism of a stewards’ decision in February in a race held at Florida’s Gulfstream Park. The race was part of a sequence of a popular jackpot-style wager targeted by handicappers nationwide. The New York gambling commission directed an examination of stewards’ procedures at its March 12 meeting.

Providing more transparency into stewards’ rulings also was an issue at the Tuesday meeting for the Racing Fan Advisory Council, an offshoot of the commission that attempts to present the views and recommendations of racing fans. The council presented its latest recommendations to the commission at the meeting, including its call that stewards better explain how they arrived at their decisions.

The council’s other recommendations included a call for racetracks to “re-examine” their takeout rates, a perennial issue for racing fans. Several commissioners had follow-up questions on the issue of takeout, which in New York is set by racetracks but capped by law.

Takeout issues have become more prominent recently because of a widely criticized decision by Churchill Downs to raise its rates just prior to the spring meet that opened in late April. Since the meet opened, handle has plummeted at the track, but so has field size, in the midst of call by some fans to boycott the track.

Patrick Connors, a professor of law at Albany Law School who is the chairman of the Racing Fan Advisory Council, suggested that the commission appoint a group to study New York takeout rates “to see if that would have an impact on business.”