Commentary: Horse Racing Regulators Should Not Be Promoters

by | 10.20.2015 | 8:23am
Jill Long Thompson

Should horse racing regulators be promoters?

Not according to former Indiana Congresswoman Jill Long Thompson, who wrote in the Journal Gazette of Fort Wayne, Ind., that “promoting and regulating are two different functions that at times can be at complete odds with one another.”

Thompson Long, who served as board chair and CEO of the Farm Credit Administration, a federal regulatory agency, currently teaches ethics for the Kelly School of Business and the School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University in Bloomington.

She wrote a commentary for the newspaper in response to the Indiana Horse Racing Commission's dismissal of longtime executive director, Joe Gorajec. In public statements, IHRC chairman Tom Weatherwax said the commission made the change because it wanted its executive director to focus more on promoting Indiana horse racing and breeding.

Thompson Long cited the 65-page statute that authorizes horse racing in the state. She wrote: “It reads, ‘The purpose of this article is to permit pari-mutuel wagering on horse races in Indiana and to ensure that pari-mutuel wagering on horse races in Indiana will be conducted with the highest of standards and the greatest level of integrity.' By law, the commission is charged with regulating to the highest standard.”

The firing of Gorajec “for focusing too much on regulating the industry, the commission made an unethical decision,” she wrote. “As a lifelong Hoosier who loves Indiana, I find myself, once again, disappointed and angered by the lack of ethics exhibited by too many public officials in our state. We can do better.”

Thompson Long said it is understandable that the commission members are concerned with a shrinking industry and lowered tax revenue. “In promoting the industry,” she said, “the state should charge that responsibility to someone other than the director responsible for regulation and oversight.

“Any ethicist worth his or her salt will tell you good promoters do not make good regulators. Giving the promotion responsibility to the regulator is a bad idea.”

More at Journal Gazette

  • Steve Barham

    Too bad that she isn’t the chair of the commission rather than Weatherwax. She at least understands what regulation is and what it is not. I’d like to know why Weatherwax doesn’t think that promotion can’d be done by the tracks’ marketing departments rather than putting the regulating entity in a conflicting situation.

    • Steve Barham

      can rather than “can’d”

    • LongTimeEconomist

      Also, the state breeders’ association, with a modest budget from the state, does it in other states.

  • David

    Why? Same reason their California counterpart saw fit to mandate tracks go to a non-dirt surface . . . They wish to manage, promote and regulate. The Lady from Ft. Wayne is on point.

    • Edzepplin

      Everyone in Indiana agreed he shouldn’t take over except Joe and the chairman (the daughter of the law firms founder which received $400 to $600K per year from the IHRC).

  • Richard C

    It is the reason why — in the golden age of daily newspapers — the editorial and advertising departments were always on separate floors.

  • Ben van den Brink

    Regulating and promoting, are two things that cannot go hand in hand. Everybody knows that.

    • Edzepplin

      Agreed. Everyone except Joe knew it was not right. Why didn’t you tell him that ? Maybe we could have saved tens of millions in lost economic activity. He wanted to play with it and he broke it .

  • KARL Bittner

    One of the advantages of Barr Tonko legislation is that it takes the use of drugs right out of the hands of all State regulators and leaves them to run the sport. That would be both the rules (Outside of medication issues) and promotion.

  • Jay Stone

    Let me give one obvious example of why everything she says is correct. Regulation and marketing can’t mix. The marketing of a fictitious track is fixated on its leading trainer who wins at a very high percentage while the regulatory agency in the fictitious state comes up with a high number of drug positives for the leading trainer. The two separate agencies are now in direct conflict as to how to handle this problem. Let the regulatory people do their jobs and let a totally separate group market the sport. Once again the best marketing tool is a well regulated game that the public trusts.

    • Edzepplin

      Did you tell Joe that he shouldn’t have requested to take those duties?.I provided the IHRC testimony based on the very same arguments you make but it was a done deal before the testimony took place.

  • bhood

    She is correct, but this was just the public reason they gave. They were going to get rid of him one way or another, so the promotion part doesn’t really matter.

  • Cimarron

    Wake up people. Racinos don’t promote the horses. They don’t want them. The horsemen’s associations have proven their inability to help promote. States like Indiana and Ohio have figured out that if the horses are going to be promoted, the only entity able or willing to do it has turned out to be the commissions that are not only regulators but also part of their mission is to encourage the success of horse racing in their states. The head of the racing commission in Ohio is withholding money from the slots fund for promotion and is actually okaying or rejecting projects.

  • hrnd

    It’d be very rare to find someone who is a hybrid for both industry needs. It’s kind of like a left-brain, right-brain scenerio. We’ve found in North Dakota it works best to let the State appointed officials regulate and the tracks and breed groups promote and advance the sport.

  • Dusty Nathan

    Regulators are regulators, policemen. Promoters are there to sell sex. They have nothing in common until a hooker gets into the back of police car.

  • Chancey Gardner

    Stop making sense!

  • Edzepplin

    Joe Gorajec was not given the task of oversight of the breeding and racing program against his wishes, He requested it himself. The problem did not begin until Joe’s hostile take over from the Governor appointed Breed Development advisory committee. You are making it out that poor Joe was forced to perform the tasks. Was Joe qualified to take on the oversight? No. Should he have been given the total power that comes along with it so he could play racing secretary ? No . Whos to blame ? Joe and his cronys made it happen through misinformation and lies. No one wanted Joe in that position except him. When are you going to except the fact that he alone was responsible taking on the responsibility. Stop blaming the people who made him accountable.

    • Are you Ed Martin, Jr?

      • Edzepplin

        I am . I am a former IHRC commissioner who wrote the breed development program and the regulations associated with its implementation. Joe has a roll a dex with two Ed Martin(s) in it.

        • Edzepplin

          Myself and a former Breed Development committee chairman founded IBOP. Ray wont let me post the blog address of our organization. It is safe to say no one has more knowledge and experience about Indiana regulation and breed development we at IBOP.

          • Edzepplin

            IBOP indy is on Blog spot dot com

          • Ben van den Brink

            Filling the numbers with bottom low claimers, and states breds is not the way to go up in quality.

            Quality and intergrity are not some words, but have a meaning.

            If only the numbers are important, you do not need any regulation at all. Horsies go.

            Otherwise after all the s..t is out, than time has come to build on a solid trust worthy foundation for bettors and attendees.

            The way to Louisiana is not that much.


          • Edzepplin

            We have had huge quality increases since slots.,Joe has hamstrung the racing secretary and he is forced to write bottom claimers to fill races because the open races are always short but Indiana bred races have much larger fields and handle more money than short fields of open races. The bottom races pay no awards. If we revert back to the way it was working, there would be no issues.

      • Edzepplin

        I sued him and won in superior court but lost in the appeals court for retaliation of my criticism about his Hostile take over that has resulted in the decimation of our program. History has proven our criticism in 2009 and 2010.

        • Edzepplin

          P.S. I had a Tort claim vs Joe and the IHRC but I dropped it to clear the way for his removal at some point.

          • Ed, you obviously do not know when it is time to stop writing.

        • Thanks for belatedly revealing your position vis a vis Joe Gorajec.

  • Plain language and the argument for separation of regulation and promotion as plain as day. Beautiful job.

    • Edzepplin

      I agree, He had no business or expertise yet he demanded the authority in the areas of breed development and racing office. Did you tell him he should not take on those responsibilities?

  • Edzepplin

    I guess you had to wait for a couple of hours before you approved this post?

  • Ben van den Brink

    If states bred can not compete in open races, than indeed is the quality that low.

    As open races seems not to fill, it is a factual proof of the lesser quality.

    The quality program should make up for this.

    • Edzepplin

      Indiana Breds won 80 races including two stakes out side of Indiana in 2014. All races were at levels that would have earned awards in Indiana. Ben please do more research on IBOP.

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