10/20/2016 3:59PM

NTRA tightens requirements for racetracks to gain accredited status

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Racetracks located in states that do not enforce medication and drug-testing policies endorsed by a national racing organization will not be eligible for accreditation by the National Thoroughbred Racing Association beginning in 2019, the NTRA announced on Thursday.

The requirement, which was approved by the board of directors of the NTRA on Thursday, adds some weight to a movement to press states to adopt the policies, which are referred to in the industry as the National Uniform Medication Program. However, accreditation through the NTRA’s Safety and Integrity Alliance is voluntary, and it is not clear whether lack of accreditation carries a stigma for the industry’s customers.

To date, 11 states have fully adopted the four major elements of the National Uniform Medication Program, including most of the states in the mid-Atlantic, according to the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium, the industry group that developed the policies. Twenty states have adopted at least one element of the program, with nearly all major racing jurisdictions having adopted the RMTC’s list of controlled medications.

Nearly all racing groups in the U.S. support national medication rules, but the industry is currently split on whether to continue to press for state-by-state adoption or push for federal legislation that would lead to a national regulatory body. The division between the two camps, which is stark, is complicated by debates on numerous, wide-ranging aspects of the two efforts.

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Some national organizations have attempted to apply pressure on states to adopt the rules, and the NTRA’s requirement falls into that camp. The NTRA’s accreditation program was launched under the belief that the program could serve as an effective counterweight to criticism that the industry is not making an adequate effort to identify and enforce best practices at its racetracks. Many of the accreditation standards are related to safety and integrity practices.

Currently, 23 racetracks are accredited, including all of the tracks that host Triple Crown races, according to the NTRA.

In addition to the requirement to adhere to all elements of the medication program, the board also approved new requirements that will require accredited tracks to comply with several new standards regarding the calculation and display of betting odds, though the requirements do not go beyond what most racetracks are currently doing.

One of the new standards requires racetracks to post final win odds “as soon as available,” while another requires tracks to agree to share wagering data with the Thoroughbred Racing Protective Bureau “upon notification of any suspected wagering incident.” The TRPB is a security arm of the Thoroughbred Racing Associations, a racetrack collective, and it has a unit that currently monitors the betting pools at all of the tracks that are members of the collective.