06/30/2011 2:42PM

New York racing board creates fan advisory panel

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The New York State Racing and Wagering Board is giving fans of the sport a voice.

At its monthly board meeting on Wednesday, the board created a Racing Fan Advisory Council. The mission of the five-member board will be to increase the fan base; recommend procedures to ensure that the opinion of the fan is a central part of the regulation of horse racing; report to the Racing and Wagering Board concerning the operation of the state’s licensed and franchised tracks and offtrack betting corporations; advise the racing board concerning laws and rules affecting horse racing; and advise the board on the creation and development of an I Love NY Racing promotion.

Three of the five board members will be appointed by John Sabini, the chairman of the racing board, with one appointee each coming from the chairs of the Senate and Assembly committees, respectively, on racing and wagering. Each member will serve a five-year term. It is expected that the board members will be announced during the upcoming Saratoga meet.

“As the industry has suffered from declining handle, it would be prudent to hear from the fans whose interests, opinions and thoughtful suggestions have the potential to increase the popularity of New York racing and thus grow more jobs for our economy,” Sabini said in passing the resolution to create this council. “The board recognizes the significance of the interests and opinions of racing fans. We frequently think of the stakeholders in racing as the owners, the trainers, the jockeys, etc. But what we all need to remember is that nobody gets a paycheck without the fans who enjoy playing the ponies.”

Michael Amo, chairman of the board of ThoroFan, a grass-roots fan organization, led the charge for this advisory council.

“We’re very much behind it, it gives the fans the opportunity in the state of New York to have some input into racing in New York State,” Amo said. “It gives the fan the opportunity to have a direct conversation with the chairman of the State Racing and Wagering Board. It doesn’t guarantee anything, it has no power, but it gives us the opportunity to have a dialogue.”