HISA announces FTC Approval of Additional Rules & Distribution of 2022 Cost Assessments to States

April 1, 2022 – The Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority (HISA) reached significant milestones this week with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) approving the proposed Enforcement and Methodology Assessment Rules in addition to the distribution of the 2022 cost assessments to state racing commissions. As the July 1, 2022 program effective date for the Racetrack Safety Program approaches, these developments are the latest steps forward in HISA’s mission to make racing safer and protect the integrity of the sport through uniform rules, enforcement mechanisms and accreditation standards.

“These developments bring us closer to fulfilling our mandate to protect the wellbeing of both horse and rider through uniform rules and accreditation standards,” said HISA CEO Lisa Lazarus. “The Racetrack Safety Program will expand veterinary oversight, impose surface maintenance and testing requirements, enhance jockey safety and implement voided claim rules, among other important measures that will go into effect on July 1.”

The Enforcement Rule (8000 Series) describes a range of violations and civil sanctions, establishes procedures for disciplinary and racetrack accreditation hearings, and grants the Authority necessary investigatory powers. Its approval by the FTC indicates that the rules meet the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act’s (the Act) requirement to define violations and provide for adequate due process, including impartial hearing officers or tribunals commensurate with the seriousness of the alleged violation. In developing these rules, the Authority relied to a great extent upon rules governing horseracing as they currently exist in most states.

The annual assessments that state racing commissions are receiving today were determined by the FTC approved Methodology Assessment Rule (8500 Series), which outlines a process designed to ensure fairness and equity across thoroughbred racing jurisdictions. The cost calculations represent each state’s proportionate share of HISA’s 2022 budget as required under the Act. Under the rule, HISA calculated 50% of each state racing commission’s cost according to the total number of starts in covered races and the remaining half based on starts weighted for purses in covered races.

It is HISA’s intention to work with relevant stakeholders on an ongoing basis to evolve and improve the rules as more data become available and as circumstances dictate.

Federal Trade Commission Approves HISA Racetrack Safety Rules, Accreditation Standards

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on Friday approved the rules and accreditation standards that comprise the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority’s (HISA) Racetrack Safety Program, marking a major milestone in HISA’s mission to protect the wellbeing of equine and human athletes along with the integrity of the sport. With the FTC’s approval, HISA will now move forward with robust industry education efforts ahead of the program’s July 1, 2022, implementation date.

“The Racetrack Safety Program’s multi-faceted approach will enable veterinarians, horsemen and all racing participants to optimize the safety of every horse before they set foot on the track while also increasing our understanding of the conditions that contribute to equine injuries,” said HISA CEO Lisa Lazarus. “The importance of this program cannot be overstated as we build on advances the industry has already made by implementing national, uniform rules and regulations, increasing accountability, and using data- and research-driven solutions to enhance the safety of our horses and jockeys.  We sincerely believe that this data will generate the information we need to help prolong equine and jockey careers.”

In drafting the rules, the Racetrack Safety Committee examined existing rules and best practices in addition to seeking input from state racing commissions, racing participants and other experts and industry organizations in a comprehensive stakeholder engagement process. The interested public had further opportunities to provide input on the draft rules via the HISA website and during the FTC’s public comment period.  Highlights of the Racetrack Safety Program include:

  • Expanded veterinary oversight;
  • Surface maintenance and measurement standards;
  • Enhanced reporting requirements;
  • Collection and analysis of medication, treatment, injury, and fatality data;
  • A voided claim rule;
  • The transfer of claimed horses’ medical information; and
  • Jockey concussion and medical care reporting.

Starting on July 1, all tracks that are accredited with the National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA) will receive interim accreditation, while tracks that are not accredited with the NTRA will be granted a one-year provisional accreditation and be given a reasonable period to achieve compliance as long as they are demonstrating continuous progress. HISA intends to work with individual racetracks and state racing jurisdictions, recognizing that compliance with new legal requirements on day one is not realistic.

“We are gratified that after a rigorous process, the FTC has overwhelmingly approved the Racetrack Safety regulations and national accreditation standards. The next step in the process will be for HISA to share cost assessments with each of the states by April 1, 2022,” explained Dr. Susan Stover, Chair of the Racetrack Safety Committee. “These new rules will decrease fatalities by detecting horses with mild pre-existing conditions through expanded veterinary oversight and the review of medication and treatment records and training histories. They will also provide a window into understanding and preventing the development of mild injuries in the first place via uniform surface maintenance standards and ongoing data analysis.”

The National Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association, which is challenging the federal legislation that created HISA, issued the following statement on Saturday:

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on Thursday, March 3, 2022, issued an order approving without exception all the racetrack safety regulations propounded by the Horseracing Integrity & Safety Authority (HISA). The rubber-stamp order accepted without issue all of the proposed rules as well as acceptance of the Authority’s responses to the comments submitted by industry participants.
The order recognized that many of the comments by industry stakeholders were useful and constructive to improve the rules. Yet, the FTC refused to disapprove any rule, nor did it direct such constructive changes be incorporated prior to approval. Instead, the FTC took the position that it would welcome future proposed rule modifications that the Authority decides to submit in response to comments received.
This FTC order makes crystal clear that this private entity of self-appointed rule-makers (i.e., The Authority) has unfettered power without governmental oversight to control the horseracing industry.
The illusion of governmental supervisory control was clearly dispelled with the FTC approving all of the Authority’s proposals without exception. It also demonstrated that this private entity will make the rules without regard to the constructive comments of industry stakeholders.
The FTC’s order affirms the significant concerns expressed in pending litigation that such a delegation of control is unconstitutional and that the input of those closest to the horseracing industry is no longer relevant.

NHBPA, State Horsemen’s Groups File Suit To Halt HISA; Jockey Club ‘Confident Law Is Constitutionally Sound And Legal’

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The National Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association, together with state affiliates in Arizona, Arkansas, Indiana, Illinois, Louisiana, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Washington and West Virginia (Mountaineer) have filed a federal civil suit in an attempt to put the brakes on the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act (HISA). The suit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, names the Federal Trade Commission and several of its employees, as well as the people tasked with forming the Nominating Committee for the new federal authority.

The suit seeks to have HISA and a number of its elements declared unconstitutional, to enjoin defendants from taking any action to implement HISA, as well as nominal damages of $1 and compensatory damages of any fees charged to horsemen by the new authority.

The lawsuit is being handled by The Liberty Justice Center, a non-profit legal center “that represents clients at no charge and was founded to fight against political privilege,” according to its press release about the case.

 

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