A national commissioner isn't the answer for horse racing

In a recent opinion piece published by The Baltimore Sun, author Dean DeLuke offered readers an insightful and constructive overview of many of the problems horse racing faces in the 21st century ("A prescription for racing," Nov. 10). Mr. DeLuke championed the idea of a "national commissioner who is empowered to lead a unified effort."

As the group that represents the interests of racing commissions throughout North America and a several international jurisdictions, the Association of Racing Commissioners International (RCI) has proposed and is encouraging adoption of legislation that would create a national entity in which individual states act together to regulate horse racing in a uniform and consistent manner. Unfortunately Mr. DeLuke did not acknowledge this effort in his column.

The concept of a racing industry national commissioner, as some have suggested, is unrealistic because of the gambling associated with horse racing and the compelling public policy arguments that justify regulation by the states. A gambling enterprise cannot be self-regulated, it's that simple. RCI's proposal would reform how individual state racing commissions operate by creating an interstate Racing and Wagering Regulatory Compact. The "compact" concept has been used successfully in other areas of state governance and regulation and has been around as long as the U.S. Constitution.

If Mr. DeLuke is serious about pressing for reform, he will urge state legislators to take up the cause of creating this compact.

Ed Martin, Lexington, Ky.

The writer is president of the Association of Racing Commissioners International.

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