Horsing Around at the Gaming Commission

Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Share on

It’s time to quit horsing around at the Gaming Commission.

Even given the dwindling popularity of the sport, Massachusetts would want to maximize the number of owners coming here to race their horses, right?  After all, with new casino gambling in the state, a portion of gaming proceeds are slated to help keep the tracks afloat. In fact, it is projected to contribute nearly $18 million a year to Massachusetts’ thoroughbred horse racing industry.

Horse racing, though a more traditional gaming venue, helps keep a portion of Massachusetts workers employed, including vendors, owners, trainers, jockeys, and racetrack workers themselves, as well as the supporting community of veterinarians and feed suppliers. The industry provides entertainment and an opportunity for legal gambling.

It would make sense for the Gaming Commission to attract horse owners to Massachusetts by making the process user-friendly.  Instead, it’s quite the opposite.

Massachusetts finishes in the back of the pack when it comes to the amount of time it takes to get a horse racing owner’s license application approved.

When owners bring their horse across state lines to participate in Massachusetts races, they have to apply for an owner’s license with the MA Gaming Commission.  The onerous process involves an 11-page application, requiring applicants to provide not just their name, address, and social security number, but also their physical description, citizenship information, previous addresses, business and employment descriptions, names of trainers, horse information, criminal background, and licensing history.  What’s more, an applicant must have the document notarized, bring two forms of identification, and be fingerprinted.

Could it be more intrusive?

Maybe so, but not when you compare it to other states.

For example, New York’s racing owner application, while asking many similar questions, is only four pages long and does not ask for citizenship information or previous addresses.  Minnesota’s application is two pages and does not require citizenship information or licensing history.  In Pennsylvania, owners only need to fill out a two page application without listing a physical description, detailed citizenship information, previous addresses, business description, or licensing history.  California’s license application is a single page and does not require a social security number, citizenship information, previous addresses, business description, names of trainer or horses or stable, and asks for less licensing history.

Many states use the Racing Commissioners International (RCI) multi-jurisdictional 4 page application for an owner’s license.  This application is available in nearly half of all states and helps to streamline the application process, saving both applicants and agencies time and money.  What’s interesting is that Massachusetts is listed on the RCI website as a member and also on the RCI owner’s application as accepting the document for thoroughbred owners and harness license applications, no fingerprints required.  However, this shorter application that can be used in multiple states is not even mentioned on the Massachusetts Gaming Commission website, nor is it linked on the page with application forms.

Why wouldn’t the commission want to take advantage of processing shorter RCI applications or accepting existing RCI licenses, rather than using the state’s own long and intrusive application? Advertising the acceptance of RCI multi-jurisdictional licenses would probably encourage more owners to participate in MA races.

The MA Gaming Commission should use a shorter application to make the process more efficient, getting owners out of the office and off to the races.

Quit the horse play, guys – it’s post time!

Lauren Corvese is a student at Northeastern University working as a Research and Programs Assistant at Pioneer Institute through the Co-op Program. Lauren tweets at: @laurencorvese