By T. D. Thornton
As New York remains well behind other racing states to pass rules on whipping reform, the Sep. 21 meeting of the New York State Gaming Commission marked the fourth consecutive session over a nine-month span that the commission again declined to take up any substantial action on the topic.
The NYSGC did, however, inch forward on the matter by declaring at the end of Monday’s 14-minute meeting that October would be the month in which it sought public commentary from stakeholders.
“I think we all agree that this is a matter that needs to be brought to closure sooner rather than later. Some of us contend that it’s been out there too long,” said NYSGC chairman Barry Sample. “The theme of the October meeting is going to be the crop.”
Commissioner Peter Moschetti agreed: “From my perspective, it is time to move on that issue.” He added that the NYSGC needs to consider “everything from an outright ban, as they did in New Jersey,” where whip use is only permitted in emergency safety situations, to the California, Kentucky, and Maryland models, which have variations about the number of allowable strikes and the manner in which they are delivered.
“I think the time has come. We want to do this. We’ve talked about doing this. Staff has done their work,” Moschetti said.
After soliciting the stakeholders’ commentary, the NYSGC would have to come back at a future meeting to vote on any proposed rule it might craft. If that rule passes the proposal stage, it must be published in the New York State Register and be sent out for a general public comment period. Then commissioners would then come back for a final vote, pushing any implementation into 2021.
The Jockeys’ Guild has largely opposed measures of whip reform that have surfaced in other states. The organization that represents riders across the continent has cited various objections, including concerns that safety would be compromised without whip usage and an argument that the sport’s regulators are waging a crackdown on public perceptions rather than reality. The Guild has also stressed the need for North American uniformity in whip regulation, a request that has not been met by the various state-by-state implementations of the new anti-whipping plans.
“I just ask that [stakeholder input] be done by the end of October. And if people are not available, they’re not available,” Moschetti said.