ARCI’s Martin: HISA needs a rewrite not a midnight quick fix

Lexington, KY — “Don’t make the same mistake twice,” ARCI President Ed Martin said in reaction to reports that Senator Mitch McConnell will make an effort to slip changes to the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act (HISA) into the Defense Appropriations Bill or Omnibus Spending Bill.

“Such a move would be an acknowledgement that the original law was fatally flawed and undercuts HISA’s assertions being made in court that it is on a sound legal foundation,” Martin said.

There are oral arguments on another HISA challenge in a Sixth Circuit appeals court tomorrow. A Fifth Circuit Federal Panel has unanimously declared HISA unconstitutional.

“It was a mistake to create HISA without going through Regular Order and it will be a double mistake to make changes without clearly assessing what’s working and what is not and allowing Senators and Members of the House to weigh in. That means regular order,” Martin said.

There is no pending emergency that would require immediate Congressional action.

A midnight language change slipped in a bill is not going to end the court challenges.

HISA CEO Lisa Lazarus called for industry unity this morning at the Global Symposium on Racing.

“Based on my experience with this industry, that won’t happen unless Senator McConnell pulls all factions into the room and forces them to come up with amendments that everyone can live with. Only then can one make the endless and costly lawsuits go away. To have one faction try to slam dunk what they think is some sort of fix is not a unifying move and Ms. Lazarus should publicly ask that regular order be the process to make amendments to Act,” Martin said. “That’s the only way I see to get this right.”

The ARCI has stayed out of the pending court cases, although some States and RCI Members are involved in litigation as they have valid concerns about states rights, constitutionality, and commandeering.

“Our concern from the get go was that this not turn into a mess. We have tried to help to the extent we can and the extent to which HISA has allowed us,” Martin said.

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