They’re out of the gate! HISA is setting the pace. 

July 1, 2022

The Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act starts, in part, today

After much controversy the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act (HISA) went into effect today and will be enforced by the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority (The Authority) with oversight by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). 

HISA is comprised of two programs: The Racetrack Safety Program, which goes into effect July 1, 2022, and the Anti-Doping and Medication Control (ADMC) Program (the “Integrity” part), which goes into effect in Jan. 1, 2023.

However, the horseshoe rule, part of the Safety program, will not be enforced until Aug. 1 as will part of the jockey’s whip rule, both to give time to stock inventory. Rule 2281 regarding the riding crop (whip) went into effect today.

Several agencies have filed several lawsuits in attempts to block the rollout of HISA in July to no avail. The latest came from the states of Louisiana and West Virginia filed Wednesday evening. 

In response to a filing, Federal Judge Terry A. Doughty of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana, declined to grant a temporary restraining order giving HISA and its officers 14 days to respond. 

The lawsuit requested “a declaratory judgment and permanent injunction finding the HISA rules invalid and setting them aside,” among other forms of relief, immediately stop the implementation of HISA rules set for today. 

In addition to the states of Louisiana and West Virginia, the plaintiffs in the suit include the Louisiana State Racing Commission, the Louisiana Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association, the Louisiana Thoroughbred Breeders Association, the West Virginia Racing Commission, and The Jockeys’ Guild, as well as several racing participants.

In a statement accompanying the filing Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry said that HISA’s regulatory scheme “is half-baked and harmful to everyone in the industry it purports to protect” and criticizing the Authority as being a creation of the federal government.

“I firmly believe the people of Louisiana should be in control of this activity, not political and corporate elites in some faraway place,” Landry further commented.

Texas and Kentucky also filed lawsuits which were dismissed earlier this year but both parties have appealed.

The Texas Racing Commission (TRC) was in constant contact with HISA as TRC Executive Director Amy Cook sent numerous letters to The Authority CEO Lisa Lazarus with frustrating results. Click here for the latest letter from TRC,

Texas and the TRC challenged HISA’s constitutionality, claiming a violation of the non-delegation doctrine and the due process clause. Most recently, Oklahoma, West Virginia, and Louisiana brought similar complaints in the Eastern District of Kentucky. Both challenges failed, with the courts upholding HISA’s constitutionality and ruling the authority follows an intelligible principle and functions subordinately to the FTC. Both decisions have been appealed.1

Notwithstanding these unsuccessful challenges, states continue to air their concerns. On June 13, the TRC executive director announced that the TRC does not intend to comply with the FTC regulations, saying state law requires races in Texas to be run only under the authority of the TRC. In doing so, the TRC attempts to avoid HISA’s jurisdiction over interstate commerce by restricting its simulcasting from crossing state lines and prohibiting the import and export of pari-mutuel simulcast signals at its racetracks. This means patrons cannot engage in in-state wagering on imported signals and out-of-state wagering on Texas-based tracks.1

Doug Daniels, the president of the National HBPA, said in a statement released on Thursday that the parties in the lawsuit were compelled to file the lawsuit after HISA declined requests to delay its implementation.

“Now it has become necessary to request this court decide if HISA is ready for its roll-out,” Daniels said. “The participants are clearly saying the answer is no.”

The HBPA played a vital role in encouraging four Senators to send a letter to The Authority and the FTC on Monday, June 27 with specific criticisms and requests. 

The Senators, Chuck Grassley (R-IA) Joe Manchin (D-WV), Joni Ernst (R-IA) and John Kennedy (R-MS), specifically referenced the delay in the Anti-doping and Medication program not scheduled to be implemented until Jan. 1, 2023. Also, the recently announced delay of the horseshoe and part of the whip rule.

The letter points out that under the HISA law the Authority does not have the authority to arbitrarily change any implementation dates. The dates can only be changed by a Congressional Act. 

Also included in the letter are six questions and requests from the Senators including if the Authority would require any dates changed. 

The Senators questioned the Authorities ability to meet the statutorily mandated deadline set forth in the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act (HISA) passed by Congress in 2020 and due to be implemented July 1, 2022. They also questioned the FTC’s ability to effectively provide oversight of the Authority and ensure it complies with HISA. Click here for the complete letter from the Senators.

Until all of the program is implemented and enforced the individual state regulations still apply to each jurisdiction. After Jan. 1, 2023, it will all be under Federal control.

Since HISA creates a national standard, there are preemption considerations for the dozens of state racing commissions. HISA prohibits commissions and other state authorities from implementing inconsistent safety and anti-doping measures. Its preemption clause expressly precludes any provision of State law or regulation” that conflicts with federal law 15 U.S.C. § 3045(b) (emphasis added). The strong language restricts states from requiring anything more or different from HISA’s safety regulations.1

Ultimately, HISA is a federal mandate, and unless ruled unconstitutional, participants in the thoroughbred horse racing industry should plan to meet all registration requirements and safety requirements by July 1, 2022.1

For updated information about HISA go to Past The Wire’s HISA page.

By Maribeth Kalinich

1: https://www.natlawreview.com/article/hisa-enters-starting-gate-july-1-texas-balks

Jonathan Stettin is a New York Legend. He's been a Horseplayer, earning his living at the track, since he was 19 years old. @jonathanstettin

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