Patrick Brown Q And A: Racing And Gaming Conference Sets High Bar In 2024

The 1863 Club at Saratoga | Susie Raisher

Billed as an intensive, premier forum for industry insiders and stakeholders, but also for patrons of sport, the 2024 Racing and Gaming Conference in Saratoga Springs, New York is set for Aug. 12-14.

Once again, session master Patrick Brown, who possesses a diverse background in government, the law and gaming, has put together an ambitious slate, and he spoke with the TDN to discuss how this year's conference is rounding into form.

TDN: Pat, what is different about this year's Racing and Gaming Conference? I always think that each time around you are able to expertly raise the level when it comes to sessions and presenters.

Patrick Brown: This year we have expanded the conference to 12 panels spread over three days. I've tried to not only broaden the subject matter of the conference, but also its geographic reach.

TDN: Right, this conference began some years ago at the Albany Law School when it was called the Saratoga Institute.

PB: Yes, the conference started as a symposium for New York lawyers. Over the last several years, we have been lucky to include academics, lawyers and gaming executives from around the country, and now we are expanding to include an international perspective. This year at least three of the panels have representation from either Europe or Asia. Gambling and horse racing issues are not purely legal, and they are certainly not confined to New York. We are trying to reflect that reality.

Patrick Brown | Brown and Weintraub

TDN: Looking through the set of sessions, the role of government and how it interacts with gaming/racing is so prevalent. Or should we say the way politics plays a role? What sessions are you looking forward to that deal with government and politics? What can people expect from the presentations?

PB: In all walks of life you will find rogues and conmen and grifters; and the gambling industry certainly has its share. Lest we forger, Detroit's floating crap game has morphed into off-shore online sites and 'skill' machines. And of course in horse racing, it is not only the human consumer that needs protection, but the equine athlete as well.

Overlay government's insatiable need for gambling revenue, and you have a complicated and dynamic relationship between all levels of the government and the industry. We try to explore aspects of that relationship at the conference.

TDN: Can you give us some examples, please?

PB: Sure, we begin with a panel of gaming commissioners from around the country discussing how they are adapting to the new HISA world. Later on that Monday, we will present a panel that focuses on the tension between government regulation and innovation and how that tension plays out in the private capital markets.

On Tuesday, we will focus on how state-sponsored gambling in the form of lotteries and racinos can adapt to the explosion of other gambling opportunities. Finally, our last panel on Wednesday will explore whether government ought to regulate the use of data collected on gambling sites and if so, how they should go about it.

TDN: Let's delve a bit deeper into the racing and gaming sectors. Where do those two entities have the most opportunities for growth in your opinion? Does the conference have areas where you are trying to highlight topics under this umbrella?

PB: The growth opportunities in racing and gaming abound and we intend to focus on several of them. Of course, one of the single largest expansions of bricks and mortar casino gambling is underway in New York City and its suburbs. We are going to tackle a unique feature of the New York selection process–the significant role played by local governments in choosing which of these mega projects is going to advance.

NY State Senator Addabbo and Assemblyman Pretlow | courtesy of RGC

In most, if not all, of the bidding processes around the country it's local governments who have a say, but they do not have the power to shut down a bid. Under the New York structure, the Community Advisory Committees can do just that. One of the panels I am most looking forward to will showcase the immense investment in racetracks around the nation.

In New York, Maryland, Kentucky and Nebraska, public and private capital have come together to say there is a bright future for horse racing in the U.S. The largest area of expansion is online gambling. Whether it is sports betting, iGaming, iLottery or horse racing, betting online is the future. A panel that I think will interest the horseplayer and the traditional sports bettor will explore where horse racing fits into the larger platforms.

TDN: You are offering one of the most unique experiences for attendees. Are there any other points that we have not discussed that you want to bring to the forefront?

PB: This is a serious conference where lawyers, academics and business executives discuss serious topics. But the success of the conference is only due in part to its content. Truth be told, the draw is Saratoga in August. I have said many times that it is rare in life to experience the very best of something. Thoroughbred racing at Saratoga in August has no peer, it is simply the best. Couple that with the beautiful and historic city of Saratoga Springs and the venue sells the conference.

We will capitalize on the city's charm and racing excitement by offering a reception at the Adelphi Hotel on Monday evening and a day at the race course on Wednesday afternoon.

Much has been written about the Adelphi; I can only add the personal thrill for me to belly up to the bar where Mark Twain held court. Truly an unsurpassed experience in elegance.

And this year we have a big surprise for the participants who want to attend the races. We have reserved the Rachael Alexandra suite on the third floor of the 1863 Club, a spot of distinctive luxury.

TDN: Finally, what do you have up your sleeve for the luncheon talk? Any clues? It is normally a rousing sermon meant to enliven the mood.

PB: Our receptions, networking breaks and the luncheon are designed to be respites from the dense topics of the panels.  So, yes, we ask our lunch speakers to keep it light. I can't announce our keynote just yet, but this year will be no different–inspirational, I hope, and light for sure.

Click here for complete rundown of details, including the agenda, and how to register for the 2024 Racing and Gaming Conference in Saratoga Spring, New York.

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