MGC Votes to Approve Uniform Medication and Penalty Rules

On October 17, 2013 in an open public meeting, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission voted 5-0 to approve a set of regulatory changes in an effort to contribute to a uniform medication and drug testing program to which eight states have so far pledged their support.

Regulators from Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia all committed earlier this year to work together towards implementation of the program once final model rules were approved by the Association of Racing Commissioners International’s Board of Directors.  Approval of the first prong of the program – a schedule of controlled therapeutic medications – was given by the Board in early April.  Approval of the second prong – an enhanced penalty structure for repeat offenders of medication rules – was given in late July.  Maryland and Virginia have already adopted the new rules with an effective date of January 1, 2014.

The horse racing industry will now distinguish between those medications which have been recognized as appropriate for therapeutic use in the horse and those which have no business being in a horse on race day.  The schedule of controlled therapeutic medications includes restricted administration times, which will provide clear withdrawal guidance to veterinary practitioners and trainers, and regulatory decision levels which will provide uniformity in a region that is home to 18 different racetracks within a 200-mile radius.

The industry is also taking a tougher stance against those trainers who accrue multiple medication violations involving the horses in their care.  The new penalty structure will assign points for each medication violation, based on whether the violation involves a therapeutic or prohibited substance, with mandatory additional penalties imposed once a certain number of points has been accumulated.  The new provisions are the culmination of more than two years’ work by a number of committees involving stakeholders from all corners of the industry.

The regulations will now be submitted to the Massachusetts legislature for final comment.

MassGaming’s Director of Racing, Jennifer Durenberger, stated, “Massachusetts now joins Maryland and Virginia as early adopters of this new set of regulations.  We are grateful to all of the industry stakeholders and hard-working committee members whose unwavering efforts to see these rules come to fruition will soon be rewarded.”  The Mid-Atlantic and Northeast consortium plans a uniform regional implementation date for the new rules of January 1, 2014.

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